Gender equality

Gender equalityGender equality means an equal visibility, empowerment and participation of both sexes in all spheres of public and private life. It requires the acceptance and appreciation of the complementarity of women and men and their diverse roles in society.

This is the basis upon which the Council of Europe seeks to make gender equality a reality.

The organisation aims to combat any interference with women’s liberty and dignity, eliminate discrimination based on sex, promote a balanced participation of women and men in political and public life and encourage the integration of a gender perspective into all programmes and policies.

Article 14 and Protocol No. 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) have helped to improve the legal protection and status of women in recent decades. However genuine equality has yet to be attained. Women are still marginalised in political and public life and paid less for work of equal value. Moreover, they remain on a substantial scale the victims of poverty, violence and unemployment.

In response, the Council of Europe emphasises the economic costs of inequality and campaigns vigorously against domestic violence and human trafficking. The organisation has also targeted education in the battle for equality. In October 2007, the Committee of Ministers adopted a recommendation to encourage measures aimed at implementing gender mainstreaming at all levels of the education system of its 47 Member States.

FOCUS: New Gender Equality Commission


“Women continue to earn less, decide less, and count less than men. There is one area where women count more than men: in the records of victims of violence”. Speaking at the launch of the Council of Europe new Gender Equality Commission on 6 June 2012, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said that all conditions were reunited for the Council of Europe to deliver important results in the field of gender equality by the end of 2013.

The new Gender Equality Commission is expected to play a key role in supporting the Council of Europe to assess the needs and identify ways to remove the obstacles to implementation of its standards in the field of gender equality. (more...)

Equality is still not a reality for millions of women in Europe

Opening an EU conference in Brussels on equality between men and women on 20 September 2011, Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio stressed that – despite many different legal instruments being in force – equality is still not a reality for millions of women in Europe and across the world.

The Deputy Secretary General highlighted three specific areas of particular importance, namely the need to increase female participation in decision-making, tackling persistent wage inequality and combating violence against women.

Ms De Boer-Buquicchio underlined the importance of the ground-breaking Council of Europe convention on violence against women, including domestic violence, and called on the EU and its member countries to sign and ratify the text.

“The convention has now been signed by 16 of the 47 Council of Europe member states. As is the case with most of the recent Council of Europe conventions, it also open to non-European countries. I certainly hope that many, including the European Union, will join,” she said.

Reference site

21st Century Woman

Women’s professional progress, the impact of feminism and the fight against male gender privilege are discussed by an international panel in the latest ''View Point '' programme. Sweden’s EU minister Birgitta Ohlsson also features in the programme. She explains the economic problems facing Europe if it continues to produce ''the most educated housewives'' in the world.