European women still face economic, social barriers: EU commissioner

March 7, 2011 - 0:0

There exists gender gaps all over the world. It is observed even in the countries which claim full democracy. Discriminations in payments between men and women, is one of the most common difficulties facing women in the U.S., Europe and many other countries.

Tehran Times Women’s Desk raised the question in an exclusive interview with Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.
“Women still face barriers to participating in the economy and society on a fully equal basis with men,” emphasized Reding.
Following is the text of the interview.
Q: How do you evaluate the situation of women in Europe, in family, in work and generally in society?
A: The European Union’s achievements in fostering equality between women and men have helped to improve the lives of many Europeans. The EU has guaranteed the right to equal pay for women and men for work of equal value, the right to family-related leave such as maternity leave.
Though in the European Social Fund we support every year around 5 million women in learning new skills and finding work and helping them to erode inequalities in the workplace. Europe has a high track record in fostering women's rights and promoting gender equality.
Nevertheless, there is still work ahead of us. Women still face barriers to participating in the economy and society on a fully equal basis with men. This dampens economic growth and represents a waste of talent. That is why I am committed to promoting gender equality in all EU policies. At the end of 2010, I set out a strategy for doing this over the next five years, with a series of actions across five different areas: the economy and labor market; equal pay; equality in senior positions; tackling gender violence; and promoting equality beyond the EU.
Q: Some media claim there is discrimination between genders in doing scientific research. Do you confirm it?
A: Yes, research is one of the areas where we still face a significant gender gap in Europe and where we still have progress to make. Across the EU as a whole, only 32% of engineers and scientists are women.
To achieve the EU's objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, women’s potential and talents need to be used more extensively across the economy and in particular in areas such as research which are key to economic growth.
Q: How do you weigh up the real situation of women in Europe?
A: There have been some encouraging recent trends. There are more women in the labor market: approaching 60% on average in the EU, up from 52% in 1998. In education and training, young women now represent more than half of university graduates in the EU: 59%.
However, gender gaps remain in many areas. In the labor market, women are still over-represented in lower paid sectors and under-represented in the top jobs. In the largest companies listed on the stock exchanges across Europe, men account for 89% of board members and women just for 11%.
The pay gap between women and men remains persistently wide: on average and across the whole economy, women in the EU earn 17.6% less per hour than men. And women also continue to work more unpaid hours than men at home