A European Union conference on gender equality has ended with a call to improve conditions for women in areas ranging from reproductive rights to prevention of domestic violence. But the meeting also stressed that better economic opportunity is of vital importance.
The meeting was held 10 years after an historic United Nations conference in Beijing on gender equality to examine what more needs to be done. In a statement, the gathering called for greater efforts to remove obstacles to women in the labor market. This includes increasing the number of women in quality jobs, and also granting equal pay for equal work.
Employment Commissioner Vladimir Spidla says women receive an average of 15 percent less pay then men for the same job with the same qualifications.
Poland's under-secretary of state for gender equality, Magdalena Sroda, told VOA the biggest problems women face involve stereotyping and the cultural perceptions of traditional roles.
"For example, people think that women have to play traditional roles, and stay at home, and [people think] they are too emotional to have a special place at work ? [that] they cannot be director, or something, because they are too emotional. So, we have a lot of stereotypes,? she noted. ?Because, you can change the laws, and you can implement the structural mechanisms [Office for Equality], but the most important problem is stereotypes, culture and mentality."
Kirsti Kolthoff, president of the European Women's Lobby, says, 10 years after the Beijing Conference, there is an urgent need for all EU nations to take quick and intensified action in the area of jobs and pay for women.
The EU conference comes ahead of a major United Nations meeting on gender issues in New York at the end of the month.