EU must ‘renew efforts’ to tackle gender inequality and discrimination

The EU must renew its efforts to promote gender equality and eradicate discrimination and violence towards women, according to a new paper from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

The paper – Challenges to women’s human rights in the EU: Gender discrimination, sexist hate speech and gender-based violence against women and girls – builds on the FRA’s 2014 violence against women survey.

It reports that persistent discrimination and endemic gender-based violence severely limits the ability of women to enjoy their rights and to participate on an equal footing in European society.

It gives examples of how harassment, including online and towards female journalists and politicians, and gender stereotyping, fuelled also by media representations of women, further reinforce such inequalities.

Michael O’Flaherty, director of the FRA (pictured) said: “Too many men treat women as second class citizens, disrespecting their rights. This paper and recent revelations highlight unacceptable levels of discrimination, violence and misogyny.

“The EU and its member states are challenged urgently to promote gender equality and change societal attitudes for the eradication of discrimination and violence against women.”

The paper’s recommendations include:

  1. Creating a safer online environment to counter the growing use of the internet and social media to abuse women and girls
  2. Breaking gender stereotypes from an early age through promoting gender equality in education and lifelong learning;
  3. Introducing gender quotas to compensate for the lack of women at higher levels of politics and business, for example;
  4. Incorporating gender equality across all EU socio-economic policies to help Member States meet their gender equality commitments;
  5. Enabling national equality bodies to tackle all issues that impact women’s rights, from gender equality to violence against women
  6. Improving data collection and the sharing of knowledge on all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls to help decision makers better assess the impact of their laws and policies.

The paper is part of FRA’s contribution to the European Commission’s third annual Fundamental Rights Colloquium – ‘Women’s rights in turbulent times’ in Brussels from 20-21 November.