International equality policy

Die Bundesregierung (the Federal Government) supports gender equality not only in Germany but also internationally. At the same time, decisions at European or international level have an impact on German gender equality policy. The most important partners in international cooperation are the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union.

UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

As early as 1985, the Federal Government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, in short: CEDAW or Women's Rights Convention. The Women's Rights Convention is the most comprehensive human rights instrument for women's rights, banning discrimination in all areas of life and committing states to take a number of measures which actively pursue equal legal status and genuine equality of women. The UN Women's Rights Commission receives regular reports on the Convention's status of implementation.

Beijing Platform for Action

The United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 was a major milestone in international equality policy. With the so-called Beijing Declaration, 189 nations unanimously adopted a wide-ranging programme on equality between women and men: the "Beijing Declaration and Beijing Platform for Action". The Beijing Action Platform sets out twelve concrete measures and tasks for promoting gender equality - with binding effect for all member states of the United Nations.

The implementation of the Platform is monitored and its unreserved validity is confirmed in the annual meetings of the UN Commission on the Status of Women but also by implementation reports, which are drawn up every five years, the latest in 2019/2020. Since, despite great progress in recent decades, gender equality has not yet been achieved completely in any country of the world even in the year of the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, the United Nations together with France, Mexico and many other member states, among them Germany, will initiate an international "Generation Equality" process in close cooperation with civil society, in (the anniversary year) 2020. The aim is to agree on concrete progress within international alliances along six thematic key activities and to drive forward implementation by 2030.

Gender equality in the European Union

Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental objectives of the European Union. It is enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

During the last few decades, the European Union has sustainably shaped equality policy in the Member States and has contributed with various measures to promoting equality between women and men. In particular, various directives are important, for instance regulating equal pay for women and men, equal access to employment, vocational training and career advancement, equal working conditions, equal treatment of women and men in the area of social security as well as maternity protection.

Council of Europe

The main task of the Council of Europe is to uphold human rights on the European continent. The Council of Europe has 47 member states, among them all 27 member states of the European Union. All member states of the Council of Europe have signed the European Convention on Human Rights. On that basis, the Council of Europe has launched many initiatives to promote equality. The "Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence" and the Convention on "Action against Trafficking in Human Beings" are important conventions of the Council of Europe. Moreover, the Member States have committed to the equality between women and men with numerous recommendations.