Over recent decades, the EU has been determined to achieve a more equal society by putting forward different legislative and non-legislative initiatives, announcing ambitious strategies, and organising many awareness-raising events on this issue.
Principles of gender equality and the prohibition of discrimination based on race, sex and belief are key values in the constitutions of all EU Member States, and modern democracies across the world. Even though much has been achieved, we still have not yet reached the level of equality that Europe has been aiming for.
To make faster progress, all EU institutions and Member States need to promote and protect the human rights of marginalised and vulnerable groups who suffer from discrimination
Why is this so difficult to achieve? The answer to this question may be more complicated than it seems because there are so many different socio-economic factors, which contribute towards inequality. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a realistic view of the facts, in order to analyse the data and statistics in this area properly so that we can ensure effective mechanisms, which are going to lead our society towards a future of equality.
For example, in Bulgaria, gender equality is guaranteed at the highest legislative level. Under Article 6, Paragraph 2 of the constitution, all citizens are equal under the law. Secondly, the Protection Against Discrimination Act is the main anti-discrimination law. It is a single equality law universally banning discrimination on a range of grounds, including ethnicity, sex, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability, and age, by providing uniform standards of protection and remedies. Next, the Equality of Women and Men Act regulates the implementation of state policy to ensure equality for women and men in Bulgaria.
Nevertheless, the statistics are alarming. The European Institute for a Gender Equality data shows that Bulgaria ranks 9th in the EU on their Gender Equality Index with 59.6 out of 100 points. Bulgaria’s score is 8.3 points below the average EU score. Added to this, in 2021, 68.9% of women compared to 77.3% of men were active in Bulgaria’s labour market. In addition, gender-based violence data showed that during the first lockdown nine women had been murdered by their partners.
It is clear that legislative initiatives are not enough by themselves and there is a crucial need for strategic plans that contain adequate measures and actions to tackle inequalities on the grounds of race, religion, and gender. To make faster progress, all EU institutions and Member States need to promote and protect the human rights of marginalised and vulnerable groups who suffer from discrimination.
They must continue making constant efforts to improve the measures they propose to ensure equality. Above all, the fight for equality and non-discrimination as well as the protection of women's rights is a collective responsibility. Gender mainstreaming and non-discrimination strategies in all policies are a prerequisite,0 guaranteeing progress in any society, as they affect all areas of life. All actions, taken on a national and Union level, should respect the possible differences of citizens and encourage unity in the diversity.
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This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group