Set-backs and Progress Since the Beijing Platform for Action
Friday, January 21, 2005 10:55 AM

The EWL has drafted an E.U. alternative report that sets forth the E.U.'s actions, legislation, and programs used to implement the Beijing Platform for Action since 1995. The report reviews the progress made by E.U. institutions in addressing the twelve areas of concern of the Beijing Platform for Action. Since Beijing, significant progress has been made at the legislative level. The report finds that the position of women in decision making has improved, and that the action of women’s NGOs has led to an increased awareness of violence against women. The report also found developments that have slowed the progress of gender equality. The last decade has seen widespread reduction of funding for public services, and these cuts have a disproportionate effect upon women. The report also found that the EU has yet to implement its commitment to achieve coherence between economic and social policy goals—which has led to a greater feminization of poverty in Europe among other negative impacts.

With the enlargement of the E.U. to include Central and Eastern European countries, many women in those countries expected greater gender equality and new opportunities. However, the economic changes during the transition to E.U. accession held negative consequences for women. Their place in the labor market has become more insecure, there are less public services to support the care of children and dependants, and trafficking in women has also increased.

The report sees the most significant progress in the E.U. as the Amsterdam Treaty of 1999, which mandates the elimination of gender inequality, and calls for the promotion of equality in all activities. This development was also accompanied by the creation and implementation of various institutional mechanisms aimed at achieving gender equality. According to the report, there are several areas of concern that have yet to be addressed fully due to a lack of implementation of legislative framework. Other areas of concern are lacking a competent legal framework completely—such as violence against women. Recently, however, the EU Council decided to create a European Gender Institute, which will provide expertise and increase opportunities for an exchange of knowledge and ideas, as well as provide recommendations on EU policy and gender mainstreaming.

Compiled from: “EWL on Beijing +10,” NEWW Polska, 12 January, 2005.