The equal participation of women and men in all spheres of life is fundamental to achieve the gender equality. However, in some fields, the underrepresentation of women is obvious, as most roles are assigned to men. In the world of politics and in the corporate world, it is especially visible: men take most leadership positions and play the role of “gatekeepers” to the positions of power. Despite the fact that women in the EU are more than half of the population, two thirds of the members of the European Parliament are men, according to data from the 2nd quarter of 2020. The academic world lacks of women as well: the ERA Progress report and She Figures reveal that women occupy only 24% of top academic positions.
It is possible to change the current situation by establishing gender balance step by step. According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, gender balance means equal participation of women and men in all areas of work, projects or programmes.
The EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 presents actions towards a gender-equal Europe by 2025 and aims at achieving equal participation of women and men in decision-making. Among others, these actions include:
- political dialogue
- raising awareness
- trend analysis
- exchange of positive experience through the Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality and the Platform of Diversity Charters
- funding projects
Horizon Europe and gender balance
With the start of the programme “Horizon Europe”, gender balance is defined as a key task with a target of 50% of women in expert groups, evaluation boards and related boards of the programme.
Moreover, gender balance is a key criterion among research groups. Removal of gender-specific prejudices is intended to make it easier for women to participate in research and innovation projects on the same position as men. The goal is to have a Union where women and men pursue their chosen life goals and equally lead our diverse European society.
From 2022, public institutions, research organisations and universities will need to present their own equality plan to participate in Horizon Europe. The consideration of the topic of gender balance will be required as a criterion for participation in funding applications in the future.
With the new “Women TechEU” scheme, a part of the Horizon Europe program, the European Innovation Council (EICs) offers to promising female entrepreneurs the opportunity to take part in an individual coaching and mentoring program. It also offers financial support for up to 50 women-led start-ups.
Gender balance and climate change
Without equal participation of men and women in decision-making, it is also impossible to achieve the objectives of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. All people must fight against climate change, as it is our common issue.
Organised actions and strategies will help accelerate the achievement of gender parity and improve status of women in the European society.
European Institute for Gender Equality. 2021. Gender balance. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eige.europa.eu/thesaurus/terms/1148. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
European Commission. 2021. Gender equality strategy. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/gender-equality-strategy_en. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
European Commission. 2021. Gender equality in research and innovation. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation/strategy/strategy-2020-2024/democracy-and-citizens-rights/gender-equality-research-and-innovation_en. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
European Innovation Council. 2021. EU launches Women TechEU pilot to put women at the forefront of deep tech. [ONLINE] Available at: https://eic.ec.europa.eu/news/eu-launches-women-techeu-pilot-put-women-forefront-deep-tech-2021-07-13_en. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
European Commission. 2021. EU action to promote gender balance in decision-making. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/equality-between-women-and-men-decision-making/eu-action-promote-gender-balance-decision-making_en. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
European Commission. 2021. Achieving gender balance in decision-making. [ONLINE] Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/gender-equality/equality-between-women-and-men-decision-making/achieving-gender-balance-decision-making_en. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
Bayfor.org. 2021. Expertenwissen: Gender Balance in Horizon Europe. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bayfor.org/de/aktuelles/news/news-detail/3807-expertenwissen-gender-balance-in-horizon-europe.html. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
UN Women. 2021. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/sections/library/publications/2016/full-view-ensuring-gender-balance-in-unfccc-processes.pdf?la=en&vs=3836. [Accessed 12 August 2021].
Olena Khomiakova is a Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. Currently she is enrolled as a Master student in Learning and Communications in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.