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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, 2005

/* COM/2005/0044 final */
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52005DC0044

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, 2005 /* COM/2005/0044 final */


Brussels, 14.2.2005

COM(2005) 44 final

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, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction 3

2. Main developments 3

2.1. EU legislation 3

2.2. Gender gaps 4

2.3. Immigrant women and men 5

3. Challenges and policy orientations 6

3.1. Strengthening the position of women in the labour market 6

3.2. Increasing care facilities for children and other dependants 7

3.3. Addressing men in achieving gender equality 7

3.4. Integrating the gender perspective into immigration and integration policies 8

3.5. Monitoring developments towards gender equality 8

4. Conclusions 9

ANNEX 10

1. INTRODUCTION

The second annual report on equality between women and men, as requested by heads of state and government at the Spring European Council, in March 2003, is the first to cover the enlarged EU of 25 Member States.

Equality between women and men is reinforced by the new Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe. In addition to the provisions of the current Treaty on gender equality, the Constitution expressly states that equality is a value of the Union, which should be promoted not only inside the Union but also in its relations with the rest of the world.

The demographic changes with an ageing population and a shrinking working population continue to be a major challenge in the EU after enlargement. The tension between combining family and professional life, partly due to lack of child care and insufficiently flexible working conditions, appears to be contributing to the postponement of having the first child and to low fertility rates in most Member States. However, experience shows that Member States having comprehensive policies to reconcile work and family life for both men and women show higher fertility rates as well as higher labour market participation of women.

The integration of a gender dimension into policies will contribute to attaining the overall Lisbon objectives. There is a need for new initiatives to increase employment in order to meet the challenge of an ageing society, including providing adequate pensions for women and men. Particular attention must be paid to mobilising the full potential of female employment and to boosting labour market participation of older women and immigrant women who have the lowest employment rates.

This report shows main developments of the relative situation of women and men in education, employment and social life. It focuses on immigrant women and men and addresses challenges for the further promotion of equality between women and men.

2. MAIN DEVELOPMENTS

2.1. EU legislation

A most recent success has been the extension of the Community acquis beyond the field of employment. In December, 2004 the Council adopted the Directive on the principle of equal treatment between women and men in the access to and supply of goods and services[1], based on Article 13 of the EC Treaty. The Directive applies to goods and services available to the public, which fall outside the area of private and family life. It lays down the principle that sex based actuarial factors should be eliminated.

The Commission has also adopted the recast proposal[2], aiming at clarifying the principle of equal treatment between men and women in matters of employment and occupation by bringing together five existing directives in a single text. The Council adopted a general approach in December 2004 and the adoption of an opinion by the European Parliament is expected during spring 2005.

The Directive[3] on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings was adopted in April 2004, as requested in last year’s report on equality between women and men[4]. It calls for granting residence permits to victims who co-operate in the fight against trafficking in human beings or against action to facilitate illegal immigration.

2.2. Gender gaps

Despite the slowdown in economic growth during the last few years and the limited employment growth, a positive trend towards closing gender gaps remains in education and employment in the enlarged EU 25, while the pay gap between women and men remains almost unchanged.

Women still outnumber men in education. The percentage of women graduates (tertiary level) increased to 58 % in 2003, due to the higher level of education in the new Member States[5]. Women now also represent 41 % of PhD graduates.

The gender gap in employment decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 15.8 % between 2002 and 2003 in the EU-25. With the female employment rate at 55.1 %, the intermediate target of women’s employment rate (57 % in 2005) still remains within reach. Apart from younger women aged 15-24, women’s employment rates continued to increase for all age groups and particularly so for older women (by 1.5 p.p. to reach 30.7 % in 2003)[6]. However, the gap between older women and older men remains the highest (19.6 p.p.).

The share of part-time employment is on average 30.4 % for women compared to only 6.6 % for men and the gap has slightly increased since 1998. This is one among many factors, which explains the gender pay gap. The new Member States have a much lower proportion of part-time jobs, partly due to labour market rigidity and partly due to the lower wage level, which makes this option less available.

Unemployment has slightly increased in 2004 but the gender gap is still significant as it remains the same as in 2003 (1.7 p.p). Unemployment rates are 10 % for women and 8.3 % for men.

Reconciliation between work and family life remains a challenge for both women and men. Women with small children continue to show employment rates 13.6 p.p. lower than women without children while men with small children show 10 p.p. higher employment rates than men without children[7]. This is the result of limited access to childcare and gender stereotyped family patterns. Women perform the major part of the domestic work and consequently have more limited time for paid work. Men do less than 40 % of all domestic work and between 25% and 35% of childcare work in couples with children aged up to 6 years[8].

There is little evidence of progress in closing the gender pay gap, which remains stable in the EU-15 at approximately 16 %[9]. The estimated figure for EU-25 is slightly lower, 15 %, when the pay gap in the new Member States has been taken into account. Gender segregation in the labour market also shows slow progress and remains high both at occupational[10] (17.5 %) and sectoral[11] (25.2 %) level. 31 % of managers were women in 2003, up from 30 % in 2002.

The gender gaps in overall poverty risks appear limited. Nevertheless, elderly women still have higher risks of poverty than elderly men[12]. Furthermore, single parents, mostly women, tend to suffer from cumulative disadvantages and are particularly vulnerable to social exclusion

Pension systems differ widely across the EU. In most countries they are designed to replace earnings from work in exchange for life-long contributions, rather than awarding benefits to all elderly people on the basis of residence. Women's entitlements are significantly lower than men's due to their reduced labour market participation. However, some countries are adapting their systems by awarding pension rights for periods of care for children, dependent elderly or disabled persons.

The mid-term evaluation of the ESF in the EU-15 shows that women have benefited from the whole spectrum of labour market activities, inter alias specific measures to develop and support effective childcare strategies, more adaptable forms of organisation for education and training, and specific activities targeting women.

2.3. Immigrant women and men

In 2003, immigration contributed to more than 80 % of the total population growth in the EU15. Recent inflows were dominated by families reuniting and asylum-seekers in most Member States.

In 2003 the share of non-EU nationals in total employment was about 4 % in the EU-15[13]. The employment rate of non-EU nationals was on average much lower than that of EU and significantly more so for women (16.9 p.p. lower than EU nationals) than for men (11.0 p.p. lower than EU nationals). The gap remains substantially unchanged for men with qualifications (13.0 p.p.), while the difference between highly qualified migrant women and EU national women increased to 23.2 p.p. This shows that immigrant women are lagging behind in labour market integration and it reflects the fact that the EU does not fully utilise the skilled female employment potential among immigrants.

The unemployment rate was more than twice as high among non-EU nationals compared to EU nationals. Immigrant men and women have similar unemployment rates, except for the high skilled where women tend to be unemployed more often than men[14]. Women migrants are concentrated in low paid industries and occupations. The information available on wages shows that immigrant women are at a particular disadvantage. In 2000, while women in the EU on average had 16 % lower pay than EU men, immigrant women (non EU nationals) earned 10 % less than EU national women. For men the pay gap between EU nationals and non-EU nationals was 4 %.

The employment rate of immigrants varies according to the place of origin[15]. Foreign born from other industrialised countries have a similar or higher employment rate and a lower unemployment rate than the EU average, while immigrants from other parts of the world have substantially lower employment and higher unemployment rates than the EU average. Differences in employment rates are largest among women.

3. CHALLENGES AND POLICY ORIENTATIONS

At the Spring European Council 2004 it was acknowledged that gender equality policies are instruments of social cohesion as well as economic growth. Efforts to promote gender equality have so far mainly focused on women. Changes for women also affect men as gender equality is about the relationship between women and men based on equal rights, equal responsibilities and equal opportunities in all spheres of life.

To meet the challenge of an ageing society, Europe needs to mobilise people to enter the labour market and to create policies to further promote women's employment in all age brackets but in particular in the older ages, and to fully utilise the female employment potential among immigrants. The challenge is also to close the gender pay gap and to facilitate reconciliation of work and family life for both women and men.

3.1. Strengthening the position of women in the labour market

Strengthening the position of women in the labour market, guaranteeing a sustainable social protection system, and creating an inclusive society remains fundamental in order to reach the Lisbon goals.

- Member States need to address the large gap in employment rates between older women and older men by adequate measures with a view to reaching the target of 50 % employment rate for older workers by 2010.

- Member States and Social Partners should address the persistence of the high level of the gender pay gap and of gender segregation in the labour market.

- Member States should ensure equal opportunities on the labour market for women and men with care responsibilities, by providing the right combination of instruments which would allow them to work full time if they wish and also to return to full time jobs after a period of part-time.

- Member States should pursue their efforts to modernise social protection systems presented in their 2002 national reports on pension schemes. Pension systems and other social benefits should be adapted to a context where women are employed to the same extent as men and aspire to the same career opportunities as men and where men can share equally domestic tasks and care responsibilities.

- Member States should remove financial and non financial disincentives to women's participation in the labour market, as well as the ones that cause long career breaks with negative consequences on the level and entitlement to pensions. These include, notably the individualisation of taxation and benefit systems and the promotion of affordable childcare facilities.

- Member States should ensure that measures and activities financed by the Structural Funds and the European Social Fund in particular, aim at combating gender stereotypes in education and in the labour market and contribute to reducing the gender pay gap.

3.2. Increasing care facilities for children and other dependants

The emergence of the ageing society calls for an adaptation of social policies that is financially and socially sustainable. The provision of adequate care facilities remains the fundamental instrument for allowing women to enter and remain in the labour market throughout their lives.

- Member States need to boost the provision of affordable, accessible childcare facilities of good quality, in particular for children aged 0-3, in line with the Barcelona targets.

- In the context of the ageing population, urgent actions and commitments are needed at member state level to guarantee a suitable level of care provision for dependants other than children, in order to avoid the withdrawal of workers, in particular women, from the labour market.

- Member States should fully use the potential of a financial contribution, provided by the Structural Funds, in particular by the ESF and ERDF, to increase the provision of care facilities.

3.3. Addressing men in achieving gender equality

The promotion of equality between women and men implies changes for men as well as for women. Therefore it is essential that both men and women actively participate in creating new strategies for achieving gender equality.

- The Social Partners play a crucial role in promoting flexible work arrangements with a view to facilitate reconciliation of professional and private life for both men and women. Special attention should be paid to actions directed towards men in order to promote a change of workplace culture in support of gender equality.

- Member States should promote adequate parental leave schemes, shared by both parents. It is particularly important to facilitate men's possibilities to take up leave by developing financial and other incentives.

- Member States and the Social Partners should initiate awareness raising activities to encourage men to share responsibilities for care of children and other dependants.

3.4. Integrating the gender perspective into immigration and integration policies

Effective and responsible integration of immigrants in the labour market and in society is one of the key factors for success in reaching the Lisbon targets. The gender perspective is to a large extent lacking in integration policies, which hampers the possibilities to fully utilise the potential of immigrant women in the labour market .

- When transposing the Directive[16] on the right to family reunification, Member States should ensure that restrictions in access to the labour market are kept to a minimum and do not hamper the integration of immigrant women.

- The different situations and conditions of immigrant women and men needs to be addressed in the further development of integration policies.

- Special attention must be paid to the double discrimination of sexism and racism that immigrant women often face, in particular in the labour market.

- In order to achieve successful integration of immigrants, in particular immigrant women, in economic and social life cultural practices and expectations concerning the role of women and men, not only in the receiving countries but also in the home nation, must be taken into account.

- It is important to use the full potential of Community Funding for promoting the gender perspective in immigration and integration policies, in particular through the European action programmes in the field of education, employment, combating social exclusion and discrimination, the EQUAL initiative, the European Refugee Fund and the newly established INTI-preparatory actions.

3.5. Monitoring developments towards gender equality

The10th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action in 2005 provides an opportunity for the EU to reaffirm the commitments made in the Declaration and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995 and to report on achievements in relation to gender equality since 1995[17]. The assessment is based on a set of core indicators developed partly in the framework of the annual reviews of the Beijing Platform for Action in the Council and partly by the Commission. This set of core indicators is also the basis for annual monitoring of development presented in the annex to this report.

The Commission's forthcoming proposal[18] on the creation of a European Institute for Gender Equality, will enhance possibilities to monitor achievements.

Reinforced efforts are needed by Member States, the Commission and the Council of Ministers:

- to further develop gender statistics and indicators in policy fields where such data are lacking;

- to pay specific attention to improving the provision of data on immigration and integration broken down by sex;

- to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in policy analyses inter alias by using data broken down by sex.

4. CONCLUSIONS

The European Council, building on this report on Equality between women and men, is invited to urge Member States to pursue efforts to integrate the gender dimension into all policy fields with a view to achieving gender equality. Special attention should be paid:

- to strengthening national machineries for gender equality;

- to ensuring correct and rapid implementation of the Directive[19] on the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions, which will have to be transposed by October 2005;

- to continuing co-operation with social partners in order to avoid gender segregation in the labour market and to reduce the gender pay gap, in particular as regards immigrant women;

- to increasing women's labour market participation, which will not only strengthen the financial sustainability of pension systems, but also allow women to become economically independent and earn better pensions of their own;

- to promoting employment for immigrant women and recognising their important role in the integration process;

- to guaranteeing and respecting the fundamental rights of immigrant women and to strengthening efforts to prevent and combat the specific violence to which women are victims;

- to carefully examining how well pension systems meet the needs of both women and men and reporting the results in the next round of national strategy reports on pensions in July 2005;

- to increasing the provision of care facilities for children and other dependants and to reinforcing strategies for reconciling work and private life, involving men to the same extent as women;

- to using the full extent of resources available through the Structural Funds, and in particular the ESF, for the promotion of equality between women and men and ensuring that gender equality is fully integrated in the next Operational Programmes of the Structural Funds and is promoted during the various stages of implementation;

- to further developing the set of core indicators for monitoring progress towards equality between women and men, including the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action; to this effect regularly collecting adequate, coherent comparable statistics broken down by sex.

ANNEX

The statistical annex gives a simple, though comprehensive, overview of the situation of women and men, its evolution over time, and remaining gender gaps in the European Union.

Given the importance of a broad approach to gender equality, indicators have been chosen according to two main criteria: their relevance in covering aspects of the lives of women and men, and the availability of comparable, and reliable data. Some indicators have been developed in the framework of the annual review of the Beijing Platform for Action in the Council and others by the Commission for monitoring progress in different policy areas, such as employment, social inclusion, education and research. The proposed data provide information on the following dimensions: paid work, income and pay, decision-making power, knowledge and time. Data on healthy life years at birth and the average age of women at birth of first child is also included.

Paid work

Paid work is a precondition of economic independence during the active ages as well as a basis for pension in older ages. It is measured by the employment and unemployment rates, and the share of part-time work. At present (2003), there is an employment gender gap of 15.8 % in the EU, while the unemployment gender gap (2004) is equal to 1.7 %. Women form the majority of those working part-time. The share of women employees working part-time was 30.5 % in the EU in 2004. The corresponding figure for men was 6.6 %.

Income and pay

In 2003, in the European Union the estimated gender pay gap was 15%. The risk of poverty was higher for women compared to men in 17 of the Member States.

Decision-making

Balanced participation in decision-making is looked at in the political and economic fields. 23 % of parliamentary seats in the EU are currently occupied by women. Some Member States experienced a substantial increase of the number of women in the parliament since 2003 while others saw a slight decrease. The percentage of women in managerial positions in the EU has increased by 1 percentage point since 2002, to reach 31 % in 2003. Very few women (all MS except 4 do not reach 15 % women) are members of the daily executive boards in top 50 companies.

Knowledge

The development towards a knowledge based society makes high demands on the educational level of the labour force. Women present higher educational attainment than men: the gap between women and men aged 20-24 attaining secondary educational level is 5 percentage points in the EU 2004. Traditional patterns remain in the research field where men represented 86% of academic staff who are full professors (or equivalent) in the EU in 2002. More women than men participate in adult education and training (life-long learning) in 21 Member States.

Working Time

The gap between average hours worked by women and men with children shows that women with children work 11 hours per week less than men with children in the EU in 2003.

Healthy life years

Women are expected to live longer in absence of limitations in functioning/disability than men in most Member States (except in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, UK, the Netherlands and Finland.

The average age of women at birth of first child

The average age of women at birth of first child has increased by at least 0.5 years in 14 Member States during the last few years.

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[1] Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37).

[2] Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (2004/0084/COD).

[3] Council Directive 2004/81/EC on the residence permit issued to third-country nationals who are victims of trafficking in human beings or who have been subject of action to facilitate illegal immigration, who cooperate with the competent authorities (OJ L 261, 6.8.2004, p. 19).

[4] COM(2004) 115 final.

[5] Eurostat, UOE, 2003.

[6] Eurostat, LFS, 2003.

[7] Eurostat, LFS, 2003.

[8] How Europeans spend their time, Eurostat, 1998-2002.

[9] Eurostat, estimate 2003.

[10] Calculated as the average national share of employment for women and men to each occupation; differences are added up to produce a total amount of gender imbalance presented as a proportion of total employment (ISCO classification).

[11] Calculated as the average national share of employment for women and men to each sector; differences are added up to produce a total amount of gender imbalance presented as a proportion of total employment (NACE classification)

[12] Eurostat, ECHP, 2001.

[13] Eurostat, LFS, 2003.

[14] Employment in Europe, EC, 2003.

[15] Employment in Europe, EC, 2004.

[16] Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification (OJ L 251, 3.10.2003, p. 12).

[17] Beijing + 10 – Progress made within the European Union, Luxemburg's presidency report, 2005.

[18] The Commission intends to adopt the proposal during spring 2005.

[19] Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on 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).

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