26 Oct
gender equality

Fostering gender equality in the EU’s foreign and security policy

MEPs call on the EU to recognise the pivotal role women play in foreign policy and international security and to adapt its policy accordingly.

The text, adopted by 477 votes in favour, 112 against and 94 abstentions on Friday (23 October 2020), calls on the European ExternalAction Service (EEAS), the Commission, the EU agencies and member states to systematically integrate gender mainstreaming into the EU’s foreign and security policy.

MEPs also insist that the multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) experienced by marginalised individuals and groups be taken into account.

A new Gender Action Plan

They welcome the Commission’s proposal to present a new Gender Action Plan on gender equality and empowerment in external relations (GAP III 2021-2025) in 2020 and state that 85% of official development assistance (ODA) should go to programmes that include gender equality as a significant or main objective.

Women’s rights

The report stresses that women play a pivotal role in bringing peace to conflict-ridden countries.

Women’s equitable participation in EU foreign policy negotiations, and peace and security processes is linked to greater economic prosperity and advancement of global security, democracy and sustainable peace, MEPs say.

Therefore, they call on the EEAS and member states to ensure women’s full participation in the various stages of the conflict cycle, in the context of EU conflict prevention and mediation activities.

Parliament also calls on the Commission and the EEAS to systematically support sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as access to family planning, contraception and safe and legal abortion services. To address poverty among women, fight exploitation, and promote a more inclusive labour market, MEPs also urge member states and EU institutions to increase financing, e.g. providing microcredits.

A gender focus in EU institutions and delegations

In order to facilitate gender mainstreaming in foreign and security policy, but also in all other EU policy areas, MEPs ask for a new Council configuration to be set up, bringing together EU Ministers and Secretaries of State responsible for gender equality.

They regret that women only account for 31.3% of middle-management positions and 26% of senior management positions at the EEAS, compared to 40% at the Commission, and call on the current EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to take the necessary steps to remedy this situation.

By: Estela Martín

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