A major event on “Women’s rights in turbulent times” was organised by the European Commission on November 20.

“Gender equality is a fundamental right, laid down in the EU Treaties,” said First Vice-President Frans Timmermans. “We must use the current focus on these issues in the media and politics to turn principle into practice. Women across Europe have the right to equality, empowerment and safety, but these rights are not yet a reality for far too many women. Today’s event is about helping to bring about behavioural change and policy change so that we improve the lives of our citizens.”

According to the findings of a Eurobarometer survey published on November 20, gender equality is still not achieved in EU member states. The Commission is announcing concrete action to put an end to the gender pay gap through an Action Plan to be delivered between now and the end of its mandate in 2019.

Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová said: “Women are still under-represented in decision-making positions in politics and the business world. They still earn 16% less than men on average across the EU. And violence against women is still widespread. This is unfair and unacceptable in today’s society. The gender pay gap must be closed, because the economic independence of women is their best protection against violence.”

To address gender inequality, the Commission presented an Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap for 2018-2019. Implementation of the action plan by all stakeholders will improve respect for the equal pay principle by assessing the possibility to amendment the Gender Equality directive. It will also tackle the care penalty by urging the European Parliament and the member states to adopt swiftly the work-life balance proposal of April 2017.

The Commission will also work to break the glass-ceiling by funding projects and improve the gender balance in companies at all management levels.