Women’s Charter of the European Commission


Women’s Charter. An intensified commitment to equality between women and men.

Statement of the European Commission on the occasion of Women’s Day 2010, commemorating the 15th Anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration and Platform for Action of the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing and the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women:


Equality between women and men is a fundamental right, enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the Union. It is one of the common values on which the European Union is founded.

Economic and social cohesion, sustainable growth and competitiveness, as well as meeting the demographic challenge will depend on real equality between women and men.

Europe has achieved (made) remarkable progress in gender equality over the past decades: it has taken the commitment seriously, launched partnerships and combined resources and instruments – legal, political and financial – to make change happen (effect or bring about change). Today, more girls graduate from college than boys. Today more women than ever before are part of the workforce in Europe. Today in Europe their talents are being realized and their skills are being utilized more.

However, there are obstacles to real equality.

On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing we reiterate and strengthen the European Commission’s commitment to making equality between women and men a reality. We will do so by strengthening the gender perspective in all policies throughout the mandate and by advancing specific measures to promote gender equality. We pledge to dedicate the necessary resources to achieve this.

In particular, the following principles of equality between women and men will underpin the actions of the European Commission during the current mandate:

1. Equal economic independence:

Discrimination, educational stereotypes, labor market segregation, precarious employment conditions, involuntary part-time work and the unbalanced sharing of care responsibilities with men affect the life options (decisions, choices) and economic independence of many women.

We reaffirm our commitment to ensure the full realization of women’s potential and the full use of their skills to facilitate a better gender distribution in the labor market and more quality jobs for women. We will strongly promote (with resolve) gender equality in the Europe-2020 strategy, considering quantifiable targets where appropriate, and promote genuine opportunities for both women and men to enjoy a work-life balance.

2. Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value

Women in the European Union still earn on average 18% less than men for every hour worked (per hour of work). They have fewer resources in their working lives and in retirement, face greater difficulties in accessing finance and are more affected than men by all forms of poverty, including in-work poverty.

We reaffirm our commitment to a vigorous mobilization of all instruments, legislative and non-legislative, to close this gender pay gap. It is a cost that Europe cannot afford. Together with the 27 EU member states, we will work for a significant reduction of this gender pay gap in the European Union until the end of the mandate of this Commission.

3. Equality in decision-making:

Women still do not have full access to a proportionate share of power and decision-making. Gender balance in decision-making and in political and economic life in the public and private sectors will help Europe shape more effective policies and develop a gender-sensitive knowledge-based society and create a stronger and more prosperous democracy.

We reaffirm the commitment to seek a fairer representation of women and men in positions of power in public life and in the economy. We will use our powers including the Union’s incentive measures to promote greater participation of women in positions of responsibility.
At the same level, we commit ourselves to all efforts to improve the gender balance within the Commission.

4. Dignity, Integrity and an End to Gender-Based Violence:

The full enjoyment of women’s fundamental rights is an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights and is essential for the advancement of women and girls, peace, security and development. Gender-based violence, including harmful traditional practices, constitutes a violation of fundamental rights, in particular of human dignity, the right to life and the right to personal integrity. This violation impedes the exercise of vital autonomy.

We reaffirm our commitment to ensure that respect for fundamental rights is at the core of our activities. We commit ourselves to make efforts to eliminate gender inequalities in access to health care and health conditions.

Europe does not tolerate gender-based violence. We will increase efforts to eradicate all forms of violence and provide support to those affected.

We will institute a comprehensive and effective policy framework and programs to combat gender-based violence. We will strengthen actions to eradicate female genital mutilation and other forms of violence, including through the criminal code, within the limits of our powers.

5. Our ambition is not limited to the borders of the Union.

Gender equality must be fully mainstreamed into foreign policy to promote the advancement and economic and social independence of women and men throughout the world. The EU is committed to promoting gender equality in all contexts, including conflict and post-conflict countries. Reducing gender inequalities, addressing gender-based violence and promoting women’s rights is essential for the sustainable development of democratic societies.

We reaffirm our commitment to vigorously pursue gender equality also in relations with third countries, raise awareness of women’s rights and promote the implementation of existing international instruments.

We will promote and strengthen cooperation with regional and international organizations to advance gender equality, making extensive use of all available tools and instruments. We will support state and non-state actors in their efforts to promote gender equality in participating (committed?) countries.

We declare our readiness to work for gender equality in partnership with all stakeholders, including civil society, at national, European and international levels, especially on those principles set out in this Charter. We will present a new strategy for equality between women and men from 2010 until the end of the mandate of this Commission, reporting regularly on its implementation.

We reaffirm our personal and collective commitment to a Europe of quality between women and men, for a better life and a sustainable future for all.