Mª Helena de Felipe

The exploratory opinion requested by the European Parliament to feed into debate on “Gender equality in European labour markets” -SOC/586-

In order to improve gender equality in labour markets, the EESC considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to adequate policies, measures and EU funding programmes for improving equality between women and men, thus fostering “more equal economic independence of women and men”. This would also contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

This opinion reiterates the need to further tackle some well-identified challenges, such as the gender pay gap and work-life balance, and on which the EESC has already issued opinions.

The EESC believes that further efforts are required to address the persistent gender pay gap. It fully supports the objectives of the Equal Pay International Coalition to work towards closing the gender pay gap by 2030. It regrets the low rate of implementation of the European Commission’s 2014 Pay Transparency Recommendation, and urges Member States and the EU to take the appropriate measures to step up implementation.


The EESC recalls that pay transparency has an important part to play in combating the gender pay gap. It recommends gender neutral pay systems as a means to foster an unbiased approach to remuneration and recruitment.

The EESC agrees with the need to enhance measures to reduce horizontal gender segregation in education, training and the labour market. Awareness raising campaigns and other measures should be carried out in order to tackle gender stereotypes and segregation in education, training and career choices, making full use of new technologies. Improved pay and working conditions in female dominated sectors could encourage more men to enter these occupations.

More efforts should be dedicated to the labour-market integration and empowerment of women belonging to vulnerable groups, taking into account an intersectional approach.

The EESC appreciates the efforts deployed by the Commission for closer monitoring of childcare and long-term care as part of the European Semester. This should remain a priority in the medium and longer term. The EESC is in favour of initiating a renewed reflection with Member States on the 2002 Barcelona targets on childcare, with a view to making the targets more ambitious and to extending the approach to care of other dependants.

The EESC calls on the Parliament and Council to introduce new and adequate indicators in the future European Structural Funds, to better monitor the EU financial contribution to the various care services and to gender equality.

The EESC welcomes the ESF+ proposal within the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, which aims to support equality between men and women and to promote women’s participation in the labour market through measures to improve work-life balance and access to childcare and other care services. It asks the Parliament and the Council to further support such measures.

The EESC also welcomes the InvestEU programme for 2021-2027, which supports investments in social infrastructure. The EESC calls on the Parliament and the Council to strongly support this new opportunity to trigger the necessary investments in childcare (as well as after school care).

Female entre+preneurship is lagging behind and needs to be fostered to exploit the enormous potential of the digital economy and technological innovation. Access to finance has to be improved and transition between job statuses facilitated.

Download SOC/586


Maria Helena de Felipe Lehonten



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