European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

Annual report on progress on equality between women and men in Europe


The annual report on progress on equality between women and men has just been released, together with a report on the application of the Charter on fundamental rights.

The report can be consulted here: (in English only)

Based on recent evidence and new data, it takes stock of major policy developments during the last year.

The report illustrates some of the many ways in which the European Union and its Member States have promoted gender equality.

While covering all five priorities of the Strategy for equality between women and men 2012-2015, the report focuses on specific aspects and recent developments:

  • The report finds that women represent a growing share of the EU workforce and are increasingly the breadwinners for their families. The share of women working rose from 55% in 1997 to 62.4% now. It is still much lower than the share of working men (74.6%). Gender gaps in employment and pay have narrowed in the last five years, yet gender equality remains elusive.
  • The policies and economic incentives that can enhance women’s participation in the labour market and contribute to reach the target of 75% of employment are well-known: increasing childcare facilities, removing fiscal disincentives for second earners and making work pay for women and men. The second ‘European Semester’ and the 2012 and 2013 Annual Growth Surveys have highlighted these policies. Recent evidence from the OECD confirms the gain of closing the gender gap in labour market participation for the economy and for achieving more inclusive growth. It is essential that Member States continue their efforts so that women and men can develop their potential on an equal basis.
  • Despite noticeable progress, gender inequalities in education and in research remain significant.
  • The crisis has particularly hit young women, who are more likely than young men to be neither in employment, education or training. Young women also more often start in the doubly fragile position of a temporary, part-time job.
  • Women still face high barriers to advance into the highest decision-making levels. The European Commission's proposal for gender balance on boards of publicly listed companies is a milestone for gender equality. Intense public debate and regulatory measures have contributed to improving gender balance in decision-making and the 2012 figures on women on boards shows the highest year-on-year change yet recorded.
  • Due to the higher prevalence of part-time working and career interruption among women, the gender earnings gaps accrue over life. As most pension systems base their pension calculations on career earnings, the gender pension gap is very wide: the average pension gap is 39%, more than twice as large as the gender pay gap of 16%.
  • Gender-based violence remains an unacceptable violation of human rights and an obstacle to gender equality. New commitments have been made and further steps have been taken in 2012 and in 2013 at European level to combat it, in particular the completion of the legal framework to guarantee rights and support for victims of crime and for all women who have fallen victims of violence. The European Institutions are working towards ending female genital mutilation and eradicating human trafficking.

We would be grateful if you could share this report with your colleagues and press contacts that might be interested in its findings.

EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.