- Equal participation of women and men in the political, social and economical field, work and family life.
- Binding policies to combat all forms of violence against women, to fight trafficking and to protect and improve women's rights, including sexual and reproductive rights;
- Development of the EU's Daphne III programme and the extension of its helpdesk service to assist women across the 25 EU countries.
- Equal rights to health services, birth control, education and information on healthy sexuality
Gender equality is a fundamental right and a common value of the EU. It is a necessary condition for the achievement of the European Union's objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion.
1. The gender dimension of the Lisbon Strategy
T he Lisbon European Council set the objective (to be achieved by 2010) of an employment rate of 60% for women. In order to achieve this objective, the PSE Group is promoting new forms of work, the organisation of working time and the sharing of tasks and responsibilities. In the view of the implementation of the gender mainstreaming policy - which means integration of gender aspects in all policies - the PSE Group recommends an integrated approach to equality between women and men in order to foster a systematic approach on the gender dimension and to monitor women's employment rate in all sectors.
a. Reconciliation of family life and work
The PSE Group strives to improve women's participation in the labour market by promoting flexible working arrangements for both women and men in order to reconcile family life and professional life - which would also help to decrease the gender gap and, address demographic challenges, at the same time. In addition to this, the PSE Group recommends that the Member States put forward new legislation in order to achieve the Barcelona targets, especially on high quality and affordable childcare and the development of other care provision, such as the care of elderly persons.
At the present moment, only a small number of men take parental leave or work part-time. European Socialists promote a new model of society in which men should be encouraged to take up family responsibilities, in particular, through incentives concerning parental and paternity leave. In the framework of the Recast directive on equal opportunities between women and men, a revision of the parental leave directive has been requested
b. Pay gap and segregation of labour markets
Equal pay for work of equal value is a basic principle in the European Union. The PSE Group demanded (in particular) through its awareness campaign on International Women's Day 2005 that this principle must be put into practice. The pay gap averages 16% in the EU, though in some member state countries, it is as high as 33%, and the gap is greater in the private sector than in the public sector. One of the main reasons of the pay gap is the segregation of occupations and stereotyping, and changes in these attitudes are required to brake down the traditional barriers that cause segregation. Tax andbenefit systems also need to be reformed in order to facilitate the return of women to the workforce, and to remain there. Awareness of the problem is the first step in overcoming it.
c. Equal participation of women and men in decision making
Women and men are not equally represented in decision making process. The 'glass ceiling' continues to prevent women from reaching more senior positions and only a small number of women occupy high posts in business and politics in Europe.
All women in the European Union who are involved in political, economical or social life should have access to all levels of responsibility: local, regional, national or European. Equal participation of women in the political, economical and social decision making structures is a guarantee for a real democracy.
Parity representation of women in politics is not only a right, but a means for social progress. Within the political parties, socialists call for a balance on the electoral list, in positions within the party and the integration of gender mainstreaming in their programmes and policies. In the private sector, the Socialist Group aim to promote a quota by law of the under-represented sex, to the relevant Management Boards, similar to the quota of 40% in Norway.
d. Support for women entrepreneurs
European Socialists provide support to women who want to create a business or exercise a self-employed activity, whether in the private sector or in the social economy, by encouraging education, training and access to credit.
e. Women in science and technology
European Socialists promote the participation of women in science and new technologies. Equal participation of women and men in these fields increases innovation, quality and competitiveness of scientific and industrial research.
In order to meet this target, European Socialists request a quota of at least 30% of women in leading positions in public sector research and the collection of data.
2. Zero tolerance towards violence against women
Violence in the home is believed to be the major cause of death and invalidity of women aged 16 to 44, greater than cancer and road accidents. All forms (sexual, psychological and physical) of violence against women should be a criminal offence in all EU countries and punished severely. Statistics have shown that one in three women will be a victim of violence during their lifetimes and 10% will be victims of rape or attempted rape. These facts are totally unacceptable and each of us must act firmly to eliminate this problem.
- European Socialists are strongly in favour of continuity of the successful Daphne programme. The programme includes t he fight against violence in all its forms (sexual, psychological and physical), support for victims and groups at risk, and assisting and encouraging NGOs and other organisations active in this field as well as the initiative to continue the Help Desk for participating organisations.
- European Socialists also request that EU Member States should guarantee asylum for victims of the gender based violence of Third countries, such as trafficking and female genital mutilation.
- European Socialists are continuously demanding a European Year against Violence towards Women.
- European Socialists stress the need for proactive and preventive strategies aimed at the perpetrators and those at risk of becoming perpetrators.
3. Human trafficking
European Socialists acknowledge that forced prostitution and trafficking in women for sexual purposes are gender-specific crimes and violation of human rights. Denial to recognise the rights of women is a serious barrier to gender equality in all societies. Europe is committed to counteracting these practices with the recognition that full gender equality and equal participation of women and men in all fields of society cannot be brought about, as long as some men in our countries use women and children, mostly girls, for sexual exploitation, making them victims of forced prostitution and trafficking in human beings for sexual and other purposes
- European Socialists recommend the development of successful prevention strategies which should go hand in hand with addressing the main causes of trafficking like, the feminization of poverty, the unemployment rate, the attraction of the different qualities of life between the country of origin and country of destination, violence against women and children, discrimination against women, strict migratory policies in the countries of destination and political instability in the countries of origin. It also underlines the importance of the identification of the main vulnerability factors of trafficked women and children in each country and that this type of identification needs to be addressed with high priority.
- European Socialists strongly encourage cooperation on an EU level for the use of an integrated and harmonized approach to collecting data on trafficking and specific prevention strategies to address the triangle of the trafficking: supply and demand sides and the traffickers.
- Forced prostitution during the World Cup 2006: European Socialists welcome and actively participate in the different campaigns against forced prostitution during the World Cup 2006 and insist on t he setting up of a multilingual telephone hotline and refuges in match centres to take care of women who have been rescued from the gangs. Players and sports associations should speak out in support of these campaigns.
4. Sexual and reproductive health and rights
European Socialists express their concern with sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe. Each person has the right to make choices regarding their own sexuality and reproduction, and the right to proper health care and information concerning family planning and sexuality.
The lack of reliable sexual education is causing severe problems such as teenage pregnancies, high abortion rates and HIV/AIDS. Methods of contraceptives are not used widely enough because of high prices and lack of accessibility and appropriate knowledge. Illegal abortions are still common in Europe and they can cause harmful complications to many women every year. Abortion must not be used as a method of birth control, but it must be an option to all women in all EU Member States. Low abortion rates can only be achieved with proper education and universal access to contraceptives.
Sexual and reproductive rights are inexorably linked to women's rights. European Socialists demand that all EU Member States guarantee their citizens equal opportunities in access to health services, birth control, education and information on healthy sexuality. We stand for a coherent EU policy in this area and work towards providing sufficient European funding to support best practices across Europe in the framework of the EU health strategy.
5. European Institute for Gender Equality
European Socialists welcome the decision to set up an independent European Institute for Gender Equality at the beginning of 2007, which is one of the key actions put forward in the Commission's Road Map for equality between women and men 2006-2010, presented on the 1st March 2006 and encourage its establishment and effectiveness within the shortest timeframe possible.
The Group fully supports the idea of a body, which will deal exclusively with gender equality matters, to ensure that the overarching objective of gender equality, as set out in the Treaty, will not be second to any other anti-discrimination policy on an EU level. We have emphasised the need to enable the Institute to focus on analysis and delivery of expertise. There's also need for a Gender Equality Network, which would enable all pertinent actors to have a systematic knowledge exchange, focusing on best practices and the most innovative approaches to gender mainstreaming.
Aside from collecting data, the role of the Institute should be proactive in order to enable the EU to effectively promote and implement gender equality policy.