What has the EU done for women?

European Commission released a MEMO/14/156 to expose the issues regarding gender gap and gender equality, women in the workforce and on boards, maternity and parental leave, childcare facilities across the EU and female genital mutilation.

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On the eve of International Women's Day (8 March), Vice-President Viviane Reding said: "Five decades of European Union action have advanced gender equality on our continent. We have put in place laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, equality in the workplace and minimum rights to maternity leave. We have made the EU's founding principles a tangible reality in Europeans' everyday lives. This is something we can and should be proud of: gender equality is a European achievement."

What about domestic violence, which has forced so many women across Europe to become homeless? Declaration 19 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty states that Member States should take all necessary steps to tackle domestic violence and help protect victims.

Women and girls who are victims of violence need appropriate support and protection, which is reinforced by effective and deterrent laws. The Commission has put such laws in place:

Victims of violence, in particular domestic violence, can soon count on EU-wide protection. The EU has put in place a package of measures to ensure that the rights of victims are not forgotten, and victims are treated justly. The Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime was adopted on 25 October 2012 (Directive 2012/29/EU) ensuring that victims are recognised, treated with respect and receive proper protection, support and access to justice. The Directive considerably strengthens the rights of victims and their family members to information, support and protection as well as their procedural rights when participating in criminal proceedings. EU Member States have to implement the provisions of this Directive into their national laws by 16 November 2015 (IP/12/1200).

Additionally, the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters (seeIP/13/510), will help prevent harm and violence and ensure that victims who benefit from a protection measure in one EU country are provided with the same level of protection in other EU countries should they move or travel there. In this way, the protection will travel with the individual. The law will benefit women in particular: around one in five women in Europe have suffered physical violence at least once in their life, according to surveys.

This measure complements the Directive on the European Protection Order which applies to protection orders adopted under criminal procedures. The EU Member States have to implement the provisions of this Directive into their national laws by 11 January 2015. The Directive means that women who have suffered domestic violence will be able to rely on a restraining order obtained in their home country wherever they are in the EU.

The European Commission also funds numerous awareness-raising campaigns in EU countries and supports grassroots organisations, NGOs and networks working to prevent violence against women. The main funding programmes are called DAPHNE III and PROGRESS. As from 2014, provision of funds will continue with the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme, supplemented by funds under the Justice Programme.

Source – read more in MEMO/14/156

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