José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Women's Charter: our commitment to gender equality
Joint press conference with VP Reding
Brussels, 5 March 2010
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
Last September, I announced in the European Parliament the preparation of a Women's Charter, to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, and to express this Commission's commitment to gender equality.
Together with Vice-President Reding, who has particular responsibility for the crucial issue of equality between women and men, I am pleased to deliver on the commitment I made and would like to present the Charter, as a declaration of the Commission on the occasion of the 2010 International women's day next Monday, 8 of March.
Let's not forget that equality is about men as well as women – it is an issue that affects everyone in our society and economy as a whole.
The Charter we are presenting today sets out our commitment to promoting gender equality in and beyond Europe over the next five years – both by including the gender perspective in all policies and through specific measures to promote gender equality and also promoting this issue in dialogue with third parties.
It sets out five key principles, which we will follow up with specific actions in a new European strategy for gender equality to be presented in the middle of this year.
We want to:
promote equal economic independence, through more equality in the labour market;
cut the gender pay gap significantly during the mandate of this Commission;
see a better representation of women in key decision-making roles;
promote dignity, integrity and eradicate all forms of violence against women;
a nd finally promote more gender equality beyond the EU at an international level.
I would like to say that the Charter will be this Commission's calling card on gender equality for the next five years.
We are putting gender equality at the heart of our Europe 2020 strategy. A growth potential will not be achieved unless it is inclusive growth. Getting women into work will help us get out of the crisis.
Also inside the Commission, equal opportunities have been high on my agenda.
I personally pushed Member States to achieve a balanced representation of women and men in the new College. I am proud that the current Commission includes 9 women out of 27 members of the College.
I am also proud that I appointed the first ever female Secretary - General of the Commission – Catherine Day.
At the level of services we have managed to increase the share of women over time to 53% of all Commission staff.
Today 55% of newly recruited AD staff (having a university degree) are women, and 39% of all AD staff are women. This last figure was only 27% in 1998.
But representation at management level is not satisfactory yet, although a positive evolution has taken place over the years:
For instance, t he number of women in senior management positions has increased over the years from approx. 8% in 1998 to approx. 20% end of 2008
In addition flexible working arrangements have been put in place for all staff, men and women and schemes for parental leave and unpaid leave have been introduced.
Let me conclude by saying: It is only through true equality that we can offer a better life and a sustainable future to all – both women and men. The Commission remains committed to further improve gender equality, in Europe and inside the Commission and also in dialogue with our international partners.