At a glance
Equality between women and men
Gender equality entails equal rights for women and men, girls and boys, as well as the same visibility, empowerment, responsibility and participation, in all spheres of public and private life. It also implies equal access to and distribution of resources between women and men.
Although the legal status of women in Europe has undoubtedly improved during recent decades, effective equality is far from being a reality. Even if progress is visible (educational attainment, labour market participation, political representation), gender gaps persist in many areas, maintaining men in their traditional roles and constraining women’s opportunities to affirm their fundamental rights and assert their agency.
Women are still marginalised in political and public life, suffer discrimination in employment or difficulties in reconciling private, family and professional life, are paid less for work of equal value and find themselves victims of poverty and unemployment more often than men.
The most pronounced expression of the uneven balance of power between women and men is violence against women, which is both a human rights violation and a major obstacle to gender equality.
A change in gender relations, women’s empowerment and abolishing negative traditional gender stereotypes are key to achieving gender equality and would benefit entire societies, including men, and for the next generation. As extensive research has shown in a multitude of contexts, when women have equal chances with men to be socially and politically active, economies and societies thrive. Overall, women’s more balanced participation in decision-making contributes to positive transformative processes for societies, such as changes in laws, policies, services, institutions, and social norms.
Council of Europe Gender Equality Glossary (2016, revised in 2022)