The European Union and Gender Equality



Equality between women and men is one of the European Union’s founding values. It goes back to 1957 when the principle of equal pay for work of equal value became part of the Treaty of Rome. Over the past few decades, the EU has notably worked for:

  • Equal treatment legislation;
  • Gender mainstreaming (integration of a gender perspective into all policies);
  • Specific measures for the advancement of women.


The Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019 establishes the Commission’s work programme in terms of gender equality for the 2016-2019 period. It is a comprehensive framework outlining the Commission’s commitments to promote gender equality in all its policies as well as into EU funding programmes. The Commission has defined the following priority areas for action:

  • equal economic independence for women and men;
  • equal pay for work of equal value;
  • equality in decision-making;
  • dignity, integrity and ending gender-based violence; and
  • promoting gender equality beyond the EU.


The strategic engagement highlights the contribution of gender equality to economic growth and sustainable development and continues to corroborate the 2011-2020 European Pact for gender equality. It builds on the priorities and experiences of the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015; the five key areas identified in 2010 remain valid today.


Every year progress is reported and presented in the Report on equality between women and men in the EU.