Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Union

Equality between women and men is a common value of the European Union that is enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. Pursuant to the Treaty on the European Union, promoting gender equality is one of the Union’s tasks (Article 3). In all its activities, it aims to eliminate inequalities and to promote equality between women and men (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Article 8).

In the field of gender equality the European Union adopted significant legislation. Member states of the European Union are obliged to implement these directives. In addition to the legally binding directives the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality (2016-2019), and the Gender Equality Strategy (2020-2025) represent a clear commitment to promote gender equality within the EU and a catalogue of measures to achieve this objective on EU and Member State level. Progress is reported every year and presented in the European Commission's "Report on Equality between women and men".

Strengthening gender Equality is also an important concern in order to reach the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Europe 2020 is the strategy of the European Union for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. 2 out of 5 headline targets focus on the increase of employment and reduction of poverty:

  • By 2020, 75 percent of Europeans aged 20-64 should be employed.
  • There should be at least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

For reaching these targets, it is - on the one hand - very important to enhance women's labour market participation in high quality jobs with living wages. On the other hand, it is necessary to tackle women’s high exposure to poverty in general and to poverty in old age. Their economic independence and social inclusion shall be ensured in all stages of life.

Documents and Links

Further information