Women Rights in the European Union

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The Council of the EU

Since 1998, different Presidencies of the Council of the European Union have made recommendations on violence against women, prepared indicators and developed other non-binding documents. In December 2009, under the Swedish Presidency, the Council adopted the Stockholm Program (2010-2014), which strengthens the commitment to better address violence against women and children and envisages greater protection for women victims of violence, including legal protection and comprehensive laws. the rights of the victims and the focus on children’s rights. According to the Presidency of Spain, the Council Conclusions on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the European Union in March 2010 constituted the agenda for measures to combat violence against women effectively.[footnoteRef:2] The 2011 Council Conclusions on the European Gender Equality Agreement for the period 2011 .2020 confirm the EU’s commitment to close gender gaps in employment, education and social protection, to ensure better work-life balance for women and men and to combat all forms of violence. against women. [2: https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/regulatory-and-legal-framework/eu-regulations]

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The european parliament

The European Parliament’s decision on the elimination of violence against women in November 2009 authorizes an act of over-expression of gender inequality to end violence against women. The European Parliament has condemned trafficking in women and circumcised female circumcision and has been a supporting actor in the fight against gender-based violence, and has taken a number of decisions on gender-based violence in general. The European Parliament considers that the collection of comparable statistical data and the sharing of good practices between Member States is very important.

The european commission

The European Commission mainly deals with violence against women through various political instruments following the Gender Equality Roadmap (2010) between 2010-2015 and 2006-2010. In May 2011, the Commission proposed a new legal package to ensure that the rights of the victim were minimized, protected, supported, and accessible to justice.[footnoteRef:3] [3: https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/regulatory-and-legal-framework/eu-regulations]

Establishing equal pay for equal work

Equal pay for equal work is one of the founding principles of the European Union.[footnoteRef:4] Under EU law, persons who are discriminated against may be able to take legal action against their employers without fear of retaliation. [4: https://diversityq.com/three-in-ten-uk-employees-discriminated-against-at-work-1004480/]

The gender pay gap Action Plan

To further tackle the gender pay gap and ensure full implementation of the principle of equal pay between women and men, the Commission adopted the 2017-2019 EU Action Plan. 8 main fields of activity:

  • Improved implementation of the principle of equal pay;
  • To fight against discrimination in occupations and sectors;
  • Breaking of glass roof: vertical separation;
  • Reducing the maintenance penalty;
  • To better assess women’s talents, efforts and responsibilities;
  • Uncover inequalities and patterns;
  • To warn and inform about gender pay deficit; and
  • Develop partnerships to deal with gender payoffs.

Achievements in women’s rights

Although inequalities persist, the EU has made significant progress in women’s rights in the last decade. The result of this:

  • Equal treatment legislation
  • Gender equality, integration of gender perspective into all other policies
  • Special measures for women’s development

Strategic engagement for gender equality

Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019 is the framework of the European Commission’s work towards future full gender equality.
Strategic engagement focuses on the following 5 priority areas:

  • Increasing women’s and men’s economic independence
  • Reducing gender wages, earnings and retirement shortages and thus combating poverty among women
  • Promoting equality between women and men in decision making
  • Fight against gender-based violence and protect and support victims
  • To promote gender equality and women’s rights in the world

What is the EU doing to combat violence against women?

During 2017, the Commission collaborated with different stakeholders to ensure that the actors share best practices and improve support structures for victims of gender-based violence. Social media campaign: NON.NO.NEIN campaign – NO! Stopping violence against women launched in 2017 has created awareness and funding for violence against women. Under the Mutual Learning Program on Gender Equality, the Commission organized the exchange of good practices among the government representatives of the Member States. The November 2017 Basic Rights Annual Conference in Brussels in Brussels focused on ’Women’s Rights in Turbulent Times 201. Violence against women in Kolloquium was one of the main topics.

The first step in setting up a global alliance to combat violence against women and girls on a global level was laid in December, between the Commission, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Council of Europe and UN Women.[footnoteRef:5] The aim is to create a global alliance to end violence against women and girls by the end of 2018. In addition to the actions under the Gender Equality and Justice policies, the European Commission focuses on violence against women in other policy areas such as trade, migration and internal affairs, transport and external co-operation. In addition, the European Social Fund supports targeted actions, particularly in the fight against violence against women with disabilities and the most vulnerable or deprived women. [5: https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-1602_lv.htm]

EU regulations

All EU Member States have ratified the main human rights instruments that require them to fight violence against women as a violation of human rights and as a type of violence based on gender discrimination against women. This means the obligation by Member States to stop impunity and to prohibit all violence, to take measures to prevent it, to provide adequate protection to the survivors, and to compensate them.
The EU supports increasing women’s protection through soft laws (communication, recommendations, etc.), Guidance principles, exchange of best practices and capacity building (eg through the Daphne Program).[footnoteRef:6] [6: https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/regulatory-and-legal-framework/eu-regulations]

Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights 2017 “Women’s Rights in Turbulent Times”

Women’s and girls’ rights need promotion and protection, as they continue to be challenged. Any regression is unacceptable. Gender equality has been a core value since the very creation of the European Union.[footnoteRef:7] The promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls are crucial for achieving social justice, building resilient democratic societies, and achieving sustainable development, as set out in the Agenda 2030. The 2017 Colloquium aims to expand political engagement, to activate all stakeholders, and to improve mutual cooperation for the promotion and protection of the fundamental rights of women and girls. Politicians, representatives of civil society, activists, leading academics, businesses and trade unions, media representatives, journalists, and international organisations will reflect together on the relationship between the fulfilment of fundamental rights for women, and pluralism, solidarity, tolerance, justice and equality. [7: https://theelders.org/news/defending-women%E2%80%99s-rights-turbulent-times]

Commission of equal opportunities

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) was an independent, non-inter-departmental public body (NDPB) in the United Kingdom that fought against gender discrimination and encouraged gender equality. The last chair was Jenny Watson. It was established under the Gender Discrimination Act of 1975 and has legal powers to assist in the implementation of the Equal Pay Act and other gender equality legislation in the UK. The EOC did not include Northern Ireland; instead these issues were addressed by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission. Similar institutions exist for other categories of equality law in Great Britain. In October 2007, they all became part of a new equality body called the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Eu treaties

Equality between women and men is one of the basic principles of Community law. The European Union’s (EU) goals on gender equality are equal opportunities and equal treatment for women and men and to combat all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex. The EU adopted a two-stage approach to this issue; this combines special measures with the spread of gender. The issue also has a strong international dimension in women’s rights and human rights issues in the fight against poverty, access to education and health services, participation in the economy and decision-making.

Treaty of Rome (1957)

The principle of equal pay for women and men was introduced in 1957 as an article in the framework of the Treaty of Rome. As part of the following steps in the path to European integration, the provisions of the additional agreements further strengthened and expanded the basis of the European approach.

Treaty of Amsterdam (1997)

With regard to gender equality, the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty took a more important step by declaring that the development of equality between women and men is a fundamental task of the EU. The Treaty also obliges Member States to get rid of inequality and promote equality between women and men in all fields of activity. Finally, he presented a new article authorizing the EU to take action against all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender or other qualifications.

EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000)

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, signed in 2000, reinforces the prohibition of discrimination and the obligation to ensure equality between men and women in all areas.

Women’s Charter (2010)

In March 2010, under the supervision of Madame Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, the European Commission presented a Rights Charter of Women Mad in the form of a policy statement. While taking this step, the Commission said its commitment to gender equality has increased in the next five years. The Charter strengthens the Commission’s obligation to promote gender mainstreaming; that is, consider and support the equality between men and women in all policy areas. In particular, the ay? Europe 2020 tam strategy aims to take full account of equality issues. In general, the Charter is the Commission’s response to calls by the European Parliament to take further action to combat violence against women.

The Code specifies five key areas for action over the next five years:

  • Promote equal economic independence through greater equality in the labor market;
  • Equal pay for equal work and equal work;
  • Promote equality in decision-making;
  • A comprehensive policy to protect human dignity and eliminate violence against women; to introduce other countries and international organizations.



  1. https://eige.europa.eu/gender-based-violence/regulatory-and-legal-framework/eu-regulations
  2. https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-15-4563_es.htm
  3. https://gbvaor.net/call-to-action-2/
  4. https://www.globalissues.org/article/166/womens-rights
  5. https://www.un.org/press/en/2013/wom1949.doc.htm
  6. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-womens-rights-3529028
  7. https://www.measureevaluation.org/our-work/gender/working-to-eliminate-violence-against-women
  8. https://www.localhistories.org/womensrights
  9. https://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-18-1602_lv.htm
  10. https://theelders.org/news/defending-women%E2%80%99s-rights-turbulent-times
  11. https://ec.europa.eu/info/events/sustainable-development-goals/2017-annual-colloquium-fundamental-rights-2017-nov-20_en
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Women Rights In The European Union. (2019, Apr 12). Retrieved December 5, 2022 , from

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