UNIFEM, CEE Statement on Gender Equality in the EU
Thursday, June 1, 2006 12:50 PM

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) organized a meeting this past April to assess the situation of gender equality in the new member states of the European Union (EU), calling attention to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international legal obligations. They issued a statement of their findings and made recommendations to improve the situation of gender equality in new member states and in the EU in general.

The statement notes that the accession processes for new member states promote gender equality awareness, but that inactivity and even backlash has occurred in some national policies in regard to gender issues since accession. In particular, mechanisms intended to address gender equality are suffering from inadequate staffing, insufficient resources, and unclear goals. More targeted policies and resource reallocation are needed to strengthen the states’ ability to combat gender inequality. The important work of civil society organizations must be supported as well.

The statement also identifies shortcomings within the EU legal system in regard to gender equality. For example, EU legislation tends to address gender issues within the framework of equality in the labor market, an approach that marginalizes other areas of concern. Moreover, the statement notes that gender equality terminology and policies are getting lost within general anti-discrimination legislation, weakening the objectives of gender equality. Policies must be targeted and specifically beneficial to women. Concern was also expressed over the lack of legal basis for tackling multi-faceted discrimination. Lack of a definition for this type of discrimination as well as inconsistencies between gender legislation and that regarding other forms of discrimination means there is no legal basis to address discrimination against women from disadvantaged groups on several grounds. This type of legislation should be developed within the EU.

Compiled from: UNIFEM CEE Statement on Gender Equality in the EU, 31 May 2006.