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Promoting gender equality & women's rights beyond the EU

The EU promotes and financially supports gender equality and women’s empowerment across the globe.

Sustainable Development Goals

The EU has committed to implement the SDGs both in its internal and external policies. Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality by ending all forms of discrimination, violence and any harmful practices against women and girls in the public and private spheres. Gender needs to be enshrined in the other SDGs.

Gender equality is included in many UN meetings. The Commission on Status of Women is dealing specifically with gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, based on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

Visual, circle with all the SDGs, SDG 5 is Gender Equality


Cooperation is a must when promoting gender equality across the world. The EU promotes and gender equality and women’s empowerment across the globe, both in international fora and through external actions. On the international level, the EU mainly cooperates with

EU’s external relations

The EU adopted its new strategic approach to women, peace and security in December 2018.

The Commission is monitoring the implementation of the Gender Action Plan II (GAP II). It focuses on gender mainstreaming – making sure that gender equality is present in all policies.  As a result, progress is being made on the EU’s objectives of

  • stopping violence against women and girls.
  • improving their socioeconomic rights.
  • increasing their participation in decision-making processes at all levels.

Gender analysis is becoming an important tool of the EU’s external policies. Almost all EU Delegations have carried out a detailed gender analysis.

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations. It aims at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

Enlargement and neighbourhood policies

Gender equality is included in the enlargement and neighbourhood policy process. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) supports monitoring processes in the external dimension. This leads to a better monitoring of several policy areas in the EU candidate and potential candidate countries.

Civilian missions

The European External Action Service issued new guidelines on gender mainstreaming for the EU civilian missions. These guidelines serve as a tool for implementation and will help to mainstream a gender perspective in all activities.


The EU’s exports to the world support 36 million jobs across Europe, of which 14 million are held by women. Trade therefore provides substantial potential for empowering women across the EU.

The EU and Chile launched a modernization of their Association Agreement in June 2018. This included an impact assessment of women in their roles as workers, entrepreneurs, traders, and consumers. The EU provided a textual proposal on including provisions on trade and gender equality in the EU-Chile Association Agreement.

The EU and Canada agreed on a recommendation on trade and gender for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). It aims to improve the capacity and conditions for women to access and fully benefit from the CETA.

International Cooperation

EU promotes gender equality through various networks across the globe.

Beijing Declaration

25 years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the platform is a crucial and powerful source of guidance.

  • The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. The CSW meets once a year. It is organised by UNWomen.
  • The Generation Equality Forum is a civil society–centred, multi-stakeholder, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. The Forum will kick off in Mexico City, Mexico (7–8 May 2020), and culminate in Paris, France (7–10 July 2020).

EU-UN: Women, Peace and Security

The EU and UN established an EU-UN collaborative platform on Women, Peace and Security in September 2018. The priorities include:

  • make leadership accountable through improved data and gender analysis.
  • ensure women’s participation in peace processes, the implementation of peace agreements and related decision-making.
  • protect women’s human rights defenders and women’s organizations.
  • ensure women’s participation in economic decision-making in post conflict situations.
  • increase the number of women in uniformed services in peacekeeping missions and national security services.
  • finance the women, peace and security agenda and invest in women peace builders.

G7 and G20 meetings

Initiatives to promote gender equality and the economic empowerment of women received substantial attention and support at the G7 and G20 meetings. The G7 leaders adopted an action plan to eliminate online sexual and gender-based violence in June 2018. Under the framework of G7 and G20 meetings, various states have brought forward:

  • inclusive approaches at all stages of technological development
  • effective protection mechanisms such as national
  • promoting gender equality and tackling domestic violence in the Western Balkans

EU-International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Gender equality is a crucial principle in the work and standards developed by the ILO. These work standards are included in the reports on care work and on a quantum leap for gender equality. The ILO fundamental conventions on equal remuneration and discrimination include crucial norms and declarations to advance gender equality, such as:

  • Convention 134 and 138 on maternity protection and on domestic work.
  • Convention 190 (on violence and harassment at the workplace including sexual harassment)
  • The Future of work centenary declaration

The EU-UN Trust Fund provided EUR 500 million to the Spotlight Initiative, to stop violence against women and girls. It is planned to last for 6 years, 2018-2024, and is composed of regional programmes and focused investment in targeted countries.