Social Policy Council
Gender equality and environment: Challenge still pending
By Irina Smirnova-Godoy | Friday 22 June 2012
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), meeting in Luxembourg on 21 June, adopted conclusions that stress the gender perspective in dealing with environmental challenges. The ministers recognised that ‘Women and the environment’, albeit identified as one of twelve critical areas of concern at the Fourth World Conference on Women, in 1995, has not been properly addressed.
The document stresses the urgent need to improve gender equality in male-dominated decision making bodies in the transport and energy sectors, in scientific and technological occupations and in relevant high-level scientific bodies. Gender-based prejudices are persistent and permeate a gender-segregated educational system and labour market, which have a negative effect on the EU’s human resources potential and ultimately its competitiveness. In this respect, the Council called on the member states to facilitate access by women to education and occupations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, introduce gender mainstreaming in all environmental policy measures, and dismantle the barriers that still impede women’s access to the highest levels of postgraduate education, and in research and decision making bodies relevant to climate change.
As a first step to measure progress in this area of policy intervention, four specific indicators were suggested following the recommendations of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). These are: the ratio of women versus men in climate change decision making bodies at the national level, in the European Parliament and the Commission, at the international level and the ratio of women versus men among tertiary graduates (master’s and PhDs) in life sciences and physical sciences.