Both the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe promote the realisation of gender equality. Under various articles of the Treaty on European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union as well as under the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the European Union is legally obligated to promote the equality of women and men. For many years, its institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament) have been working towards achieving the equality of men and women before the law and in everyday life both at European level and in the member states.
Das Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth) supports this both in the relevant Council bodies and in all other expert groups and committees relevant to gender equality policy at EU level, for example in the Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men of the EU Commission.
Gender equality policy in the European Commission
Between 2016 and 2019, gender equality policy in the European Union was conducted within the framework of the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality. In March 2020, the European Commission presented its Gender Equality Strategy for the period 2020 to 2025 in the form of a binding Commission communication. The Gender Equality Strategy sets out six key objectives:
- being free from violence and stereotypes
- thriving in a gender-equal economy
- leading equally throughout Society
- gender mainstreaming and an intersectional perspective in EU policies
- funding actions to make progress in gender equality in the EU
- addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment across the world
Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme
Since the adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014 to 2020, transnational measures, including those promoting the equality of women and men, have been supported by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme 2014 to 2020 of the EU. The European Social Fund also promotes the equality of women and men.
European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
In 2010, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) officially started operating in Vilnius, Lithuania. The institute supports the gender equality policy of the institutions of the European Union and the member states by collecting, analysing and processing data. In addition, the institute maintains a documentation centre which collects and makes available data, examples of best practice and materials for the promotion of gender equality from all European member states.
Since 2013, EIGE has been publishing the European Gender Equality Index. It is based on six core domains - work, money, knowledge, power, time and health - and two additional domains: violence against women and intersecting inequalities. Its foundation lies in the political priorities of the EU and it assesses the impact of political gender equality strategies within the European Union and the member states over time.
Gender Equality Policy of the Council of Europe
Since 2012, the Gender Equality Commission (GEC) has been working on the topic of equality of women and men within the Council of Europe. At the same time as establishing the GEC, the Council of Europe started the Transversal Programme on Gender Equality. The programme aims at ensuring that all institutions and bodies of the Council of Europe pursue the equality of women and men in the same way.
In March 2018, the Committee of Ministers adopted the "Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2018 to 2023". The strategy's key points are:
- to prevent and combat gender stereotypes and sexism
- to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence
- to ensure equal access to justice
- to achieve balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making
- to protect the rights of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls
- to achieve gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures
In April 2011, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the so-called Istanbul Convention, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers. Germany ratified the Convention in 2017. It came into force in Germany in February 2018. The Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force in Germany in 2013. Meanwhile, Germany has reached the second monitoring stage set up to supervise the implementation of the Convention.