A new EP report on 'Equality between women and men in the EU' this year?

This week, MEPs held a first debate on the annual own-initiative report 'Equality between women and men', a previous edition of which had failed in plenary earlier this year. 

By Hendrik Meerkamp

26 Sep 2014

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

On September 24, the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality met for an initial exchange of views on a forthcoming own-initiative report procedure on Equality between women and men in 2013. Please find below a summary of the debate that took place. 

Rapporteur Marc Tarabella (S&D, BE) recalled that the last Own-initiative annual report procedure on Equality between women and men (in 2012) failed when the committee report was rejected by the plenary in January 2014 and said that in this context he aims to give everybody time to raise opinions on this year’s report and to negotiate a document that will achieve a consensus that is as broad as possible.

Speaking on the substance of his forthcoming draft report, he said that he thinks about focussing on problems related to the following key areas:

  • the continued negative impacts of the recent economic crisis on women, which he said hit women disproportionally hard;
  • gender equality-related problems entailed in the Barcelona objectives of 2002 on the development of childcare facilities for young children in Europe with a view to sustainable and inclusive growth, which were planned to be achieved by 2010;
  • aspects of taxation and their negative impacts on gender equality;
  • maternity leave, a legislation on which has been threatened by the European Commission to be no longer pursued at the European level;
  • the gender pay gap, which continues to persist across the EU, albeit on different levels;
  • violence against women and cyber violence against women in particular, which poses a yet largely unresolved problem in the EU.
  • the right of every woman to her own body, in particular matters of contraception and abortion, which is often not yet universally accepted.

Mr Tarabella concluded by saying that there are more subjects and sub-topics that might be relevant for the report, including poverty especially of single mothers, the impact of youth guarantee on gender equality, and the representation of women on company boards, but said that it might be advisable to not “cover too much ground” in order to not threaten a renewed rejection of the annual report.

Maria Noichl (S&D, DE) said that the seven points are to be welcomed but that aspects of health policies and access to medicine to women should be highlighted, too.

Krisztina Morvai (NI, HU) welcomed the focus on abortion in Mr Tarabella’s introductory remarks. She also welcomed that a man is taking care of the report and of the fight for gender equality.

Ms Morvai also called to stress further in the text the role of men in furthering gender equality.

Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, ES) welcomed Mr Tarabella’s introductory remarks in particular on the right of women on their own body (he went as far as saying that the EU should have a directive on this) but noted that the impacts of recent structural reforms on the equality between men and women should be further highlighted, especially when it comes to those impacts related to the labour market, pensions, and older workers. He concluded by stressing that poverty among older women is very important and that the topic of female representation on company boards should be addressed in the report. 

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