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Frontpage News 2015 International Women’s Day – make it happen

Participants from the 'Promociona' project which set out to increase the number of women on boards. Photo credit: National Focal Point of Spain

International Women’s Day – make it happen

As International Women’s Day is marked around the globe, we take a look at how support to gender equality from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the Grants is helping to #makeithappen.

While there is a lot to celebrate, the day also serves to remind us of the multitude of inequalities that still need to be addressed. Despite the increasing recognition that gender equality is crucial for social and economic development, disparities between men and women continue to characterise many spheres of society.

The latest European Commission Report on equality between women and men shows that although gaps between men and women have narrowed in recent decades, challenges remain in critical areas:

  • Closing the gender pay and pension gap has been frustratingly slow. For every euro a man earns in Europe, a woman still earns only 84 cents.Women still tend to be concentrated in less well-paid sectors.
  • Women are still under-represented in leadership both in business and in politics. Although gender gaps in employment have narrowed in recent years, women still account for less than a quarter of company board members, despite representing almost half of the workforce (46%).
  • The prevalence of gender-based violence is still alarmingly high. A third of women in the EU report having experienced physical and sexual violence. See more figures in the EU-wide survey on violence against women published by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Inspiring women

Gender equality is an important priority for the EEA and Norway Grants. The three donor countries have dedicated over €50 million to initiatives supporting gender equality in 15 of the beneficiary countries. As well as specific programmes on gender equality, work-life balance and gender-based violence, gender issues are also supported through the civil society and research programmes.

And these efforts are starting to show tangible results. Women may still be disadvantaged on account of their gender in many instances in Europe, but when action is taken to level the playing field, the results can be inspiring.

Take Dana Bandryová. She took part in a leadership training scheme for Roma women in Slovakia and is now involved in grassroots community politics. Or Ana Martínez in Spain. Thanks to the Women Entrepreneurship project, Ana has been able to translate her idea for an interactive tourism app into a real business. Also in Spain, Beatriz de Dios was one of 40 female managers who took part in the Promociona project aiming to encourage a greater presence of women executives on Boards of Directors. Or indeed ‘Mari’ – a victim of domestic violence – who has been given a safe roof over her head and is receiving counselling and legal help from the Estonian Women’s Shelters Union.

“I have lived for two months at this secret location and it is good and peaceful here. Through the therapy and legal help, I am working with myself and getting my life back,” says Mari (not her real name), relieved at last to be at peace and able to start looking forward rather than back.


You can read many more stories on the programme pages:

Mainstreaming gender equality and promoting work-life balance

Domestic and gender-based violence