Gender Equality Work in Europe
The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe was established in 1949 and is one of the prominent human rights organisations in Europe. The core values of the Council include promoting democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It also works to promote gender mainstreaming and gender equality by drafting international conventions, collecting information, and monitoring gender equality practices in its member states.
The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is one of the most significant conventions undertaken by the Council.
The Council of Europe has 47 permanent members and six observer states. Sweden became one of the Council of Europe’s founding members on 5 May 1949.
The Gender Equality Commission (GEC) and the National Focal Points (NFPs) for Gender Equality are the two institutions within the Council of Europe that ensure the implementation of the Council’s gender strategy. GEC is responsible for gender mainstreaming and consists of 57 experts from its member states. Lillemor Dahlgren, project manager at the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research, serves as Sweden’s representative in GEC.
GEC’s focus areas are: ‘combating gender stereotypes and sexism; preventing and combating violence against women; guaranteeing equal access of women to justice; achieving balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision making; and gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures.’
The GEC experts meet twice a year and the NFPs representatives once a year. The NFPs’ annual meeting brings together diverse stakeholders and independent experts and provides an opportunity to discuss the specific annual theme determined by GEC and NFPs.
European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
EIGE is an independent body of the European Union that envisions making gender equality ‘a reality for all Europeans and beyond’. It was established in 2010 and is bound to the European Union’s policies and initiatives. EIGE’s charter, role and objectives are defined by the European Parliament and the European Council.
EIGE aims to influence and improve gender equality policies by providing reliable data and high-quality research. It also helps other EU institutions to analyse and compare gender equality data. EIGE aspires to ‘become the European knowledge centre on gender equality issues’ in the future and sets its strategies accordingly.
The Institute has a particular focus on gender mainstreaming, gender-based violence and provision of statistics at the European level.
Moreover, EIGE monitors the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in its member states. The Beijing Platform for Action is the global agenda for women empowerment and conforms to the United Nations’ principles of gender equality. EIGE carries out this task by ‘delivering high-quality reports on the progress of gender equality in the critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action chosen by the Presidencies.’
EIGE is led by three bodies: the executive body, the management board and the consultative body. The executive body includes the director and other temporary and contract agents working at EIGE.
The management board is the highest body and decides the annual budget and work programme. It is formed by 18 representatives from the member states, including one representative from the European Commission. Each representative serves for three years.
The consultative body acts as gender equality expert and adviser to the Institution. It is composed of two representatives from each member state, three representatives from the European Commission and two representatives from the European Parliament. The representatives serve for a period of three years to the institution.