Gender inequality can manifest itself in many ways, be it through gender-based violence, unequal pay between men and women, or the application of gender stereotypes. Needless to say the achievement of full gender equality is still a long way off. Last Thursday a hearing was held in the European Parliament, entitled ‘Towards a new strategy for gender equality’, in which experts and MEPs were invited to debate the merits of the current roadmap towards equality between men and women (2006 – 2010), and put forward some new ideas for the next one.
I’m sure it will come as no surprise that most of the speakers who filled the room were women. This alone is a strong indicator of just how much more work there is still to do. I believe that there is a real need to involve men in the debate about women’s rights and gender equality. The stereotypes that trap women also trap men, and there can be no doubt that men need to be allies in the fight against gender inequality. I was very pleased that my fellow S&D Women’s Rights Committee member, Marc Tarabella, attended the event. Tarabella recently put together a report in the Parliament on equality between men and women in the European Union, and his contributions in the Women’s Committee are always thoughtful and constructive.
As we move into a new decade, and make our way onto a new roadmap towards gender equality, I believe that a dual approach towards gender equality is needed, involving collaboration and action by both the EU and national governments. It is not enough to simply focus on policy directly linked to gender inequality, such as violence and unequal pay; the gender aspect must also be considered in policy areas that at first glance are not necessarily linked to gender equality, including migration and asylum. As part of my role in the Committee on Culture Education this parliamentary term, I will be in charge of gender mainstreaming, ensuring that the ‘gender perspective’ is acknowledged in all policy and legislation dealt with by the Committee. The problem of gender inequality will only be solved if gender is considered at all levels and in all policy areas.