Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on equality between women and men - 2006
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[pic] | COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES |
REPORT FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
on equality between women and men - 2006
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Introduction 3
2. Main developments 3
2.1. Policy and legislative developments and state of play 3
2.2. Gender gaps 5
3. Challenges and policy orientations 6
3.1. Fully exploit the gender equality policy contribution to the European strategyfor growth and employment 7
3.2. Promote an effective reconciliation of work and private life 7
3.3. Support gender equality with effective institutional mechanisms 8
3.4. The external dimension of gender equality 9
4. Conclusions 9
This yearly report presents an overview of the main developments on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2005. It also outlines challenges and policy orientations for the future.
The EU reaffirmed its full commitment to gender equality in the social agenda  for 2005-2010, which complements and supports the renewed Lisbon strategy for growth and jobs. The new set of integrated guidelines that supports the objectives of delivering stronger, lasting growth and creating more and better jobs recognise gender equality as essential in meeting the labour market challenges. They combine specific measures on women's employment and the mainstreaming of the gender perspective in all action taken.
Gender policies contribute to employment and growth. Three quarters of the new jobs created in the last five years in the EU have been filled by women. Yet the persistence of gender gaps underlines that more can be done to tap into the productive potential of women. Poor work-life balance in particular, still drives workers out of the labour market and contributes to lower fertility rates. There is a real need to step up efforts to support effective and innovative means to help men and women reconcile work and their private responsibilities at all stages in their lives.
Equality between women and men should not be limited by borders. The EU strongly supported the Beijing Platform for Action (PfA) and reaffirmed its commitment to the full realisation of the PfA by asking for its effective implementation. This is essential to achieving internationally agreed development goals, including those of the Millennium Declaration. This position was also supported by the EU at the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations on 14-16 September 2005 which addressed the review of the Millennium Declaration.
2. MAIN DEVELOPMENTS
2.1. Policy and legislative developments and state of play
The Commission announced a Communication on future developments of policies for equality between women and men in the European Union for the next five years, to be adopted in the first quarter of 2006. This " Roadmap for equality between women and men " will identify challenges and actions for the EU to achieve gender equality through its internal and external policies, in keeping with the objectives of growth and jobs creation. The roadmap will highlight the commitment and specific contribution of the EU to the process.
Legislation has been key to making progress in equality between women and men over the past decades. Further steps forward were taken in 2005 following the adoption of an amended proposal for a Directive which simplifies and modernises existing Community legislation on equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment. Efforts are ongoing to ensure a swift adoption of the Directive in early 2006 on the basis of a common position negotiated between the Council and the European Parliament.
The deadline for the transposition of the 2002 equal treatment Directive expired on 5 October 2005. Setting up the equality bodies provided for in the Directive will undoubtedly contribute to a better implementation of gender equality legislation. Most Member States have transposed the Directive into national law. Infringement proceedings will be initiated where the Directive has not been transposed or has not been correctly transposed.
On 8 March 2005, the Commission proposed setting up a European Institute for Gender Equality , which is intended to become an important tool for the dissemination of information, the exchange of good practices and the development of methodological tools for the promotion of gender mainstreaming. It will also raise the visibility of achievements and challenges in the area of gender equality. The proposal is being examined by the Council and the European Parliament. The European Economic and Social Committee adopted an opinion supportive of the proposal on 28 September 2005.
In the frame of the European social dialogue social partners adopted a Framework of Actions for Gender Equality in March 2005, concentrating on four priorities: addressing gender roles, promoting women in decision-making, supporting work-life balance and tackling the gender pay gap. The annual report on progress made will be of the greatest importance. Initiatives to compile, exchange and promote good practice in the field of gender equality are also being undertaken by some sectoral social partners.
The increasing importance given to gender equality in science and the access of women to leading positions was underlined by the Competitiveness Council Conclusions of 18 April 2005. Member States were invited to increase significantly the number of women in leading research positions, with the aim of reaching, as a first step, the goal of 25% in the public sector as an average in the EU.
The need to take into account the gender perspective in immigration policies was addressed in the common agenda for the integration of third country nationals  adopted by the Commission. It underlined in particular the importance of fully utilising the potential of immigrant women on the labour market. The Commission has also been actively addressing the problem of trafficking in human beings, of which women continue to be the primary victims. It presented an integrated approach and proposals for an action plan which underlined the importance of the gender perspective in prevention strategies and in the elimination of all forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and domestic labour exploitation.
2005 marked the 10th anniversary celebration of the Beijing Platform for Action , which constituted a milestone in the development of gender mainstreaming of public policies. On this occasion, governments worldwide acknowledged progress made so far, but they also stressed the remaining challenges and obstacles. Particular areas of concern are women's access to education, property, work, health and reproductive services. Maternal mortality remains problematic and in some areas, in particular some African regions, women's situation has worsened. The EU commitment contributed strongly to successfully reaffirming the PfA. Further to a Commission proposal, the Council, the Parliament and the Commission adopted a Joint Statement on " The European Consensus on Development " in November 2005 which identified gender equality as one of the five key principles of the development policy. The new EU Strategy for Africa also specifically foresees that gender equality should be fully taken into account in all partnerships and in national development strategies. The Commission expects to adopt a communication entitled “A European Vision on Gender Equality in Development Cooperation” in the first half of 2006.
2.2. Gender gaps
The favourable trend in female employment has led to a narrowing of the gender gaps in employment and unemployment. Nevertheless, major imbalances persist while the high pay gap shows no significant signs of narrowing.
In recent years, progress towards reaching the Lisbon target for employment of 70% by 2010 has owed much to the uninterrupted increase in the entry of women into the labour market over the past decade, while male employment rate has remained relatively stable over the same period. The female employment rate rose to 55.7% in the EU-25 in 2004, up 0.7 percentage points compared to 2003, placing the mid-term target of 57% by 2005 within reach. As a result, the employment rate gap was further reduced to 15.2 points in 2004, down from 18.1 points in 1999. A decrease in female unemployment combined with a similar increase in male unemployment also brought the unemployment gap down to 2.1 points, almost a full point lower than in 1999. Among older workers , progress in the employment rate was also stronger among women than men. The employment rate of women over 55 increased by a full percentage point in 2004 to 31.7%, or 5.4 points above the level in 1999. This helped to reduce the employment rate gap for older workers, although the gap remained particularly high at 19.0 points in 2004.
Against this favourable backdrop, it must be acknowledged that the main areas of growth for female employment continued to be concentrated in activities and occupations already predominantly feminine. This has reinforced segregation in the labour market. Indeed, both sectoral and occupational segregation continue to rise in the EU, respectively to 25.4% and 18.1%. More than four in ten employed women work in public administration, education, health or social activities, compared to less than two in ten men. In the private sector, however, business services remain an important source of job creation both for women and men, with an increase of employed persons in excess of 5% between 2000 and 2004.
A further source of concern is the persistence of the gender gap in part-time work , which is done by 32.6% of women in employment against only 7.4% of men. Although recourse to part-time work may reflect personal preferences and may help people to (re-)enter and stay in the labour market, the high gender gap is also an evidence of differences of time use patterns between women and men and of the role of carer predominantly assumed by women and the greater difficulties they face in trying to reconcile work and private life. Participation in employment and the amount of time worked by women is closely linked to the number and age of children; this is less the case for men. For women aged between 20 and 49, having a child pushes the employment rate down by as much as 14.3 points, while it drives up men's employment rate by 5.6 points. Similarly, the recourse to part-time work by women increases with the number of children, which is not the case for men. One-third of women with one child and half of women with three or more children work on part-time basis, while the number of children has little effect on the proportion of men working part-time.
Work-life balance tensions combined with stereotypes and gender-biased remuneration and evaluation systems continue to affect the women's career and perpetuate the vertical segregation of the labour market. Within enterprises, women account for only 32% of managers. Only 10% of members of the boards and 3% of CEOs of the larger EU enterprises are women. In education and research, women outnumber men as graduates (59%), yet their presence decreases consistently as they progress on the career ladder, from 43% of PhDs down to only 15% of full professors.
The pay gap between women and men remains at unacceptably high levels and shows no significant signs of being closed. On average, women earn 15% less than men for every hour worked. This results from both non respect of equal pay legislation and from a number of structural inequalities such as labour market segregation, differences in work patterns, access to education and training, biased evaluation and pay systems and stereotypes.
The risk of social exclusion appears somewhat greater for women than for men at all stages of life, echoing their average lower participation in the labour market. The risk of poverty, in particular, is higher amongst older women and amongst lone parents with dependant children, a group predominantly composed of women.
3. CHALLENGES AND POLICY ORIENTATIONS
The European strategy for growth and employment acknowledges that gender equality is essential for progress, yet the National Reform Programmes presented by the Member States this year showed reduced visibility and a loss of momentum of gender issues. Europe needs a reaffirmed commitment to the Community approach, combining gender mainstreaming and specific positive actions, supported by effective institutional mechanisms.
3.1. Fully exploit the gender equality policy contribution to the European strategy for growth and employment
Gender equality policies are instrumental to growth and employment. Removing structural inequalities between women and men will help to release the employment potential of women while contributing to social cohesion and to the viability of the social protection system. The persistence of gender gaps are the sign of a dysfunctional labour market where individual aspirations and qualifications are not fully supported and valued, and even act as a disincentive to labour market participation.
- Member States and social partners should pursue action to reduce the employment rate gap between women and men, in particular among older workers.
- Scaling down the pay gap and attacking its underlying causes should remain a priority. Action must combine all available instruments, including the effective implementation of existing legislation, and should actively involve social partners. Areas to address include notably sectoral and occupational segregation, access to education and training for all, transparent evaluation and pay systems, raising awareness and combating stereotypes among stakeholders and reviewing classifications of professions.
- The quality of jobs and a good work environment are key elements in attracting and retaining people on the labour market. Member States and social partners need to take concrete steps to support this, notably by promoting and disseminating work patterns that fully value the qualifications of the workers while ensuring employment security and social rights and benefits.
- Member States should proceed, where needed, with reforms of tax and benefits systems to create incentives and eliminate disincentives for lower earners within households or carers, both of whom are predominantly women, to (re-)enter and remain on the labour market, rendering work financially attractive and ensuring their economic independence, also with regard to the accrual of pension rights.
- The European strategy for growth and employment needs the full support of the Structural Funds in the field of gender equality, notably by the effective integration of a gender perspective in the national strategic reference frameworks and programming documents, and the sufficient funding of specific gender equality actions.
3.2. Promote an effective reconciliation of work and private life
A good work-life balance helps to reduce gender gaps and to improve the quality of the work environment while contributing to addressing the challenge of demographic changes. To be effective, it should be devised and promoted as a policy for both women and men at all stages of their life, including for young people as underlined in the European Youth Pact. A renewed commitment is needed to deliver accessible, affordable and good quality care facilities for children and other dependants.
- Member States should step up their efforts to meet the Barcelona targets for childcare and support the development of care for older and disabled persons. Particular attention should be given to the fact that full-time working schedules of women and men require convenient opening hours and flexibility. Initiatives by enterprises or education establishments to develop care services should be encouraged.
- Reconciliation of work and private life should include the promotion and dissemination of innovative and adaptable work arrangements that facilitate work-life balance and take into account the different needs at different stages of life.
- Access to public services, including administrations, transport services and employment services should be compatible with work schedules and should not hinder women and men with responsibilities for children or other dependant persons to (re-)enter or stay in the labour market.
- Decisive action should be taken to fight sexist stereotypes and to encourage men to take up their responsibilities in the domestic and family sphere. This includes the development of incentives, notably financial, that support a better balance of responsibilities and tasks between women and men and strengthen the role of men in care and parental leave.
3.3. Support gender equality with effective institutional mechanisms
Strong governance involving all parties concerned is vital to achieving gender equality. It requires a strong and clear commitment at the highest political level and must be backed up by adequate mechanisms, organisational arrangements, resources and sharing of experience between Member States.
- Partnership and dialogue are key elements of governance. It is essential that all parties concerned are associated at all stages of policy making, implementation and evaluation, notably gender equality ministries or departments, gender equality bodies, social partners and civil society.
- Member States should strengthen their implementation of the principle of gender mainstreaming into all relevant policy areas and take concrete steps to develop and disseminate methods and tools in support of this, such as gender audit and gender impact assessment.
- The integration of economic policy and employment guidelines in the new Lisbon strategy should encourage Member States to reinforce gender mainstreaming in all chapters of the National Reform Programmes, particularly in areas where limited progress is recorded, notably in economic policies, enterprise policies and in budgetary policies (gender budgeting).
- Member States should support the good functioning of the national machinery in support of gender equality, including the equality bodies provided for in Directive 2002/73, notably ensuring that they have the necessary independence, resources and capacities to function effectively.
- Policy monitoring needs to be supported by the collection, compilation and dissemination of timely, reliable and comparable data disaggregated by sex. Further attention should be paid to avoid gender bias in statistical methodology and classifications.
3.4. The external dimension of gender equality
The EU has been at forefront of the gender equality policy from the outset. It has contributed to promoting gender equality beyond its borders. Europe should reaffirm its commitment to this approach and ensure that gender aspects are taken into account in its external relations.
- Member States should take concrete steps to accelerate the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women. They should monitor progress by regular reporting and assessing results and set time-bound targets.
- Developing countries should be supported by appropriate technical and financial assistance in their efforts to integrate gender mainstreaming and empowerment of women within policies and programmes.
- Member States should take into account the gender perspective in partnerships with non-EU countries and in development strategies including poverty reduction strategies, in accordance with the "European Consensus" on development policy.
- Acceding, candidate and potential candidate countries should continue to be supported in their efforts to transpose, implement and effectively enforce the Community acquis in gender equality matters as well as to create the necessary institutions to enforce it.
Building on this report on equality between women and men and recognising the contribution that gender equality can make to the renewed agenda for growth and jobs, the European Council is invited to urge the Member States to take stock of progress in this area and to reaffirm their commitment to mainstreaming the gender dimension in all policy fields in partnership with the social partners and civil society and to meeting the challenges evidenced above. In doing so, special attention should be paid:
- to reducing with a comprehensive approach the employment gap between women and men, particularly among older workers;
- to analysing and tackling the underlying causes of the gender pay gap;
- to developing a comprehensive approach for promoting the reconciliation of work and private life, involving men as well as women;
- to making full use of the Structural Funds to support gender equality, ensuring both the funding of specific actions and the integration of a gender equality perspective at all stages of the design, implementation and evaluation of national strategic frameworks and operational programmes;
- to continuing to support social partners in their development, implementation and monitoring of initiatives in the field of equality between women and men, notably the Framework for Actions for Gender Equality;
- to fully implementing the Directive on equal treatment for men and women on the labour market and in particular the establishment of equality bodies;
- to swift adoption of the proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Institute for Gender Equality in order to ensure its timely establishment and functioning;
- to ensuring the adoption of the proposal for a Directive on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast version);
- to building on the commitment to the full realisation of the Beijing Platform for Action and its effective implementation and monitoring.
The following figures provide a statistical overview of the relative position of women and men in some key domains: the labour market, education, presence in decision making positions and health. All indicators presented below are the same as those used in the 2004 and 2005 reports on equality between women and men in order to maintain continuity and to facilitate monitoring from one year to another. This year, additional data is provided in relation to the theme of work-life balance.
Over the last few years, the gap between women's and men's employment rates has decreased from 18.1 to 15.2 percentage points (p.p.), mainly due to a stagnation of men's employment rate together with a growth of women's employment rate in most countries. However, the gap between women and men remains significant, although it varies considerably across countries, from less than 10 p.p. in Sweden, Finland and Denmark and the Baltic countries to more than 20 p.p. in Cyprus, Luxembourg, Italy, Spain, Greece and Malta. Among older workers (55 to 64 years), the gap between female and male employment rates is higher, almost 20 p.p. in 2004. However, a comparison with 1999 figures shows a reduction of this gap due to a strong growth in the employment rate of women aged 55-64 (+ 5.4 p.p.).
In most countries, women are still more likely to be unemployed than men, but the gap has reduced from 3.0 p.p. in 1999 to 2.1 p.p. in 2004, due to the improvement of the situation of women in the labour market. This decrease in the gap has occurred in 15 countries out of 25, especially in the countries which had the most significant gap in 1999 (Greece, Spain and Italy but also Cyprus, Germany, Poland, France, the Czech republic and Belgium).
Despite the abovementioned convergence in the employment and unemployment rates, it must be recognised that women's participation in the labour market is still relatively low and part-time work features strongly. In 2004, 32.6% of women worked part-time, while this was the case for only 7.4% of men. However, this varied greatly between countries: less than one-tenth of women worked part-time in Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech republic, Lithuania and Greece whilst in Luxembourg, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany the share of part-time work among women reached 40% and was up to three quarters in the Netherlands.
Reconciliation of professional and private life
The lack of work-life balance is often cited as a factor explaining the persistence of gender gaps in the labour market. Indeed, women appear more affected by the tensions arising when trying to combine participation in the labour market with private responsibilities. Data show that participation in the labour market and the number of hours worked are linked to parenthood, but that the effect is negative for women whilst it is positive for men. In almost all European countries, women (aged 20-49) with children have lower employment rates than those without. For the EU-25, the employment rate falls from 75.4% in the case of women without children to 61.1% for women with children. Moreover, 23.3 % of women having children worked part-time while this is the case for only 15.9 % of women without children.
Conversely, employment rates of men with children are higher (91.2%) than among men without children (85.6%) and the share of part-time workers becomes even lower. The same conclusions can be drawn from the average number of hours worked, which decreases for women (aged 20-49) with children while it increases for men.
The gender pay gap is the reflection of a multitude of inequalities between women and men on the labour market and may show significant variation across countries, sectors and occupations. In 2004, the estimated pay gap between women and men in the EU was 15%, one point below its level in 1999. Taking into account methodological issues, 17 Member States reported a slight decrease of the pay gap over that period while it remained unchanged in three others. Five countries reported an increase of the gender pay gap since 1999: Belgium, Slovakia, Portugal, France and Germany. Note that country comparisons should be done with care due to the diversity of sources.
Presence in decision-making positions
Concerning the decision-making positions, the role of women remains weak and positive developments are very slow. This is the case in politics, where women occupied 23% of parliamentary seats in 2005 (with a full percentage point increase since 2003). The proportion exceeds one-third in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Spain and Belgium but is still below 15% in Greece, Ireland, Slovenia, Italy, Hungary and Malta. Nevertheless, during the period under review, women's share of parliamentary seats fell in only four countries and the long-term trend is well that of an improvement of women's representation in politics.
In the economic field, it appears that, in 2004, women represented 32% of managers in Europe. However, women's share of top management positions in firms (i.e. membership of the daily executive bodies of top companies) was 10%.
Education, training and research
In 2004, almost 8 women aged 20-24 out of 10 had completed at least upper secondary education, while less than three quarters of men had done so. With regard to a typical academic career, it appears that women are more numerous and more successful than men at first degree level (59% of ISCED5a graduates), but their share decreases in PhDs (43% of ISCED 6 graduates), and reaches a minimum among full professors (15% of Grade A full professors). Furthermore, study fields continue to be segmented with a low presence of women in engineering or science and technology and a high one in health, education or the humanities. Concerning life-long learning, more women than men participate in adult education and training in 21 Member States, with an average participation rate of 11.7% among women and 10% among men.
Health and age at first child
Healthy life expectancy at birth is the number of years that a person is expected to live without limitations in functioning/disability. In 2003, women were in a better position than men with respect to this indicator. The average age of women at the birth of their first child ranges from 24.5 years in Baltic countries to 29 years in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. It has increased everywhere between 1999 and 2003, by between 0.1 years in Spain and up to 1.3 years in the Czech republic.
Average hours worked per week by women and men (aged 20-49) with or without children (aged 0-6) in EU Member States – 2004
Source: Eurostat, European Labour Force Survey, 2004
Data are not available for DK, IE and SE.
Employment rates and amount of time worked per week for women and men aged 20-49, depending on whether they have children under 12 - 2004
Left bar: without children under 12. Right bar: with children under 12.
Source: Eurostat, European Labour Force Survey, 2004
DK, IE, CY, LU, MT, SK, SE: some data are not shown for reasons of availability or reliability.
 COM(2005) 33 final of 9.2.2005.
 COM(2005) 24 final of 2.2.2005.
 Council Decision 2005/600/EC of 12 July 2005 on Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States.
 Document 9242/05 of the Council of the European Union of 27.5.2005.
 COM(2005) 380 final of 25.8.2005.
 Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions (OJ L 269, 5.10.2002, p.15).
 COM(2005) 81 final of 8.3.2005.
 CESE 1066/2005 of 28.9.2005.
 COM(2005) 389 final of 1.9.2005.
 COM (2005) 514 final of 18.10.2005.
 "Joint Statement by the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on EU Development Policy: "The European Consensus", document 14820/05 of the Council of the European Union of 22.11.2005.
 COM(2005) 489 final of 12.10.2005.
 Gender segregation in sectors is calculated as the average national share of employment for women and men applied to each sector; differences are added up to produce the total amount of gender imbalance expressed as a proportion of total employment (NACE classification). Gender segregation in occupations is calculated in a similar way as the addition of differences in the average national share of employment for women and men applied to each occupation (ISCO classification).
 Eurostat, Labour Force Survey, 2005.
 Database on women and men in decision-making positions, European Commission.
 "Women and Science: Excellence and Innovation", SEC(2005) 370 of 11.3.2005.
 COM(2005) 206 final of 30.5.2005.
 Providing childcare for 33% of children aged 0 to 3 years and 90% of children from 3 years to compulsory school age by 2010.
 Article 8a of Directive 2002/73/EC.
 Directive 2002/73/EC.
 COM (2005) 380 final.