Gender issues are in the spotlight right now. The #MeToo movement has encouraged women to come forward with stories of historical abuse, and worldwide “Women’s Marches” have seen millions of people come out onto the streets to advocate in favour of women’s rights. It feels like there’s momentum building, but to what end?

What still needs to change? In the European Union in 2016, women’s gross hourly earnings were on average 16.2% those of men. That average masks a great deal of variety, of course, with the actual gender pay gap ranging from as low as 6.8% in Romania to up to 24% in Germany.

Activists argue that greater political representation is also needed. Just over 27% of representatives in Europe’s parliaments are women, which seems low (given that women are roughly half of all people alive on Earth) but actually makes Europe the second-best region in the world for political gender parity, below the Americas.

What do our readers think? We received a comment from Anne, who believes there is “still a lot” left to do in the fight for full gender equality. Is she right? And, if so, what exactly is left to do?

What’s the best way to achieve gender equality? We asked Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all sides of the political spectrum to stake out their positions on this question, and it’s up to YOU to vote for the policies you favour. See what the different MEPs have to say, then vote at the bottom of this debate for the one you most agree with! Take part in the vote below and tell us who you support in the European Parliament!

Radical Left
Lídia Senra (GUE-NGL), Member of the European Parliament:

We cannot carry on talking about democracy while part of society continues to despise the rights of women. Even within the European institutions and in the political parties there isn’t a real advance in the fight against sexism.

I think the laws are not being applied as they should. One of the most important issues to advance in gender equality is to guarantee a strong gender perspective training for all the people who work in the elaboration and application of laws and, at this moment, particularly in the field of justice.

In addition, the European Commission should begin to take the necessary steps to put in place a Directive to combat sexist violence, as well as to adopt this line of work as a real priority of the European institutions.

Terry Reintke (Group of the Greens), Member of the European Parliament:

Liberal Democrats
Angelika Mlinar (ALDE), Member of the European Parliament:

Working in the committee on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights (FEMM Committee), as well as chairing the ALDE Party Gender Equality Network, thriving towards gender equality is one of the main fields of my work here at the European Parliament.

We need to invest in the education of young women from an early age on. Girls should be encouraged to understand and believe that they have the equal possibility and power to pursue a successful career, no matter the work-field. We must ensure quality education to girls and women, we have to establish inclusive and quality learning environments and provide safe and adequate educational infrastructure. Moreover, I identify the compatibility of work and family-life as a great challenge, as well as the gender-based discrimination in the work place and in self-employment. A lot has changed for the better recently, but there is still a long way to actual equal opportunities for women and men. The pay gap between women and men is still too big.

Furthermore, in parliamentary and management positions men are still a disproportional big group. In my work as a politician, I strongly encourage women to build a career in politics and to fight against the stereotypes that exist in this male-dominated environment. An increased women’s political participation has resulted in a bigger economic benefit, increased cooperation across party lines and in policy-making that advocates for gender equality.

Centre Right
Barbara Matera (EPP), Member of the European Parliament:

Anne, according to me, there are many good ways to achieve gender equality. It can be worked on on many different levels. But for me, making education gender sensitive would be one of the best ways to achieve this equality we have been talking about for so many years; if all countries around the world could educate children and the generations to come to be more sensitive about gender stereotypes.

There has been much progress in increasing access to education, but progress has been slow in improving the gender sensitivity of the education system, including ensuring textbooks promote positive stereotypes. This is critically important [if we want] girls to come out of schools as citizens who can shape a more equal society. In some countries, there is a tendency to assume that things are fine as long as there are an equal number of girls in schools.

Jadwiga Wiśniewska (ECR), Member of the European Parliament:

Among the priorities of the European Union […] is to strengthen the economic situation of women living in rural areas. I think that we all know very well that [the lives of] women in rural areas are particularly difficult. Very often, doing the same hard physical work as men, they receive a lower salary. They have more difficult access to health care, education and further education.

It is very good that today we are talking about these issues because we can effectively improve the situation of women by facilitating access to education, health services, medical services, and social welfare. We must also say that women should be guaranteed the right to a pension. Those women whose lives focus on caring for the elderly in the family, the sick, the children.

I will therefore support all those priorities that I think are right, good and right. Without unnecessary ideology.

André Elissen (ENF), Member of the European Parliament:

Curious to know more about gender equality? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) / BigStock – sangriana; PORTRAIT CREDITS: Lidia Senra CC – Adrián Estévez, Angelika Mlinar CC – Welt Atlas, Barbara Matera CC – European Parliament, Jadwiga Wiśniewska CC – Poseł Jadwiga Wiśniewska
With the support of:


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52 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar

    Talking about the issues men, trans and intersex people face as well might be a good start, rather than recycling and trying to retrofit topics. This only creates a narrative that doesn’t help the majority of Europe’s citizens. If you want to talk about women’s issues, that’s fine- there are genuine issues- but gender does not equal women alone.

  2. avatar

    Women, homosexuals and minorities have massive privileges over white straight men so is it your intention to widen the gap or eliminate it ? . Given the destruction of Western society is the proclaimed goal of the regressive left following these divisive policies can only speed up it’s extinction.

    • avatar

      What is your home-planet???

    • avatar

      Debating Europe Censorship ?

  3. avatar

    Why are you still banging on about the debunked & none existent pay gap ?

    • avatar

      Debating Europe Or if you prefer to hear it from a man here is one of the greatest minds of our time.The interview is a few years old now but after all the equality legislation of the last 20 years what he says is even more evidently true now than it was then.

    • avatar

      Debating Europe
      I read it and all it proves is ‘people’ earn different amounts of money for doing different jobs with different competencies, that does not prove there is a gender pay gap, if anything the opposite is true.

      For instance, the top ten earners in the adult entertainment industry are all woman, are you saying that is sexiest ?

      Women vastly out number men in education, veterinarians, psychology, the fashion industry etc & earn more in those fields than men so are you claiming that is because of some mythical matriarchy oppressing men ?

    • avatar
      Debating Europe

      What evidence do you have to prove it doesn’t exist?

    • avatar
      Debating Europe


    • avatar

      Ivan Burrows hogswash. Did you even read the report? Especially part 4? It’s very revealing how, even in mostly female environments full-time workers earn less for being of the wrong gender. If you don’t see it, you didn’t read into it enough or you’re being delusional.

    • avatar

      Btw, comparing top earners in certain job industries is a ridiculously arbitrary cherry-picked argument for a widespread problem.

    • avatar

      What the report very conveniently & deliberately leaves out is the level of competence within each category, the amount of leave mothers take, the years served within each sector, the number of women who move from full time to part time & the amount of overtime done by each individual and simply rounds off the overall salary figures to give the required results. You like it are comparing apples and oranges & achieve the result you want.

      It all so ignores jobs within sectors – warehouse operatives working night shifts & daylight till operators with in retail, canteen staff and production line operatives in manufacturing, it ignores pay level differences within the same sector across different levels ie shop assistants v’s warehouse staff in Oxford street with shop assistants v’s warehouse staff working in corner shops in Wigan, etc

      A better example would be the home of this pc nonsense the Nordic countries where after decades of anti men discrimination the gap between men and women in individual professions has widened not decreased, proving that when men and women are free to decide they still chose typically gender identified job roles.

      The only thing this idiotic gender reassignment drive has done is decimate the birthrate, so well done for that.

      Social engineering always leads to catastrophe, whether its Germany in the 1930’s or the whole of western Civilisation in the 21st Century..

    • avatar

      People in ‘all’ professions & at all levels are paid what they are worth according to the market and it is your report that is arbitrary cherry-picking to give the result that fit both the message the Governments want to give (purely to win votes) and your regressive collectivisation pc agenda.

    • avatar

      what? Where do you see that? “median hourly pay”, motherly leaves, years served and overtime make zero impact on that, as well as your previous example of top earners. Overtime is then examinated through the median bonus hourly wage, which, again, is in favour of male workers. Are you sure you have functional literacy?

      I get that the data about education is not there, but you could see some interesting trends in this other report, even if it is from the US:

      Here gender inequality gets examined to the very roots, starting from education. We still see how women are having a rising trend of graduating from college, while men’s trend is plummeting in recent years. Yet it’s apparently no good for the difference in payment, there still is a disparity of wage, a higher unemployment rate for women and some of the worst social plans for working mothers there is in the developed world, but I digress.

      Lastly, you clearly have your own ideas on the matter that you insist on not changing, I’ve seen that throughout the whole page, where you don’t refrain from voicing your opinion and clearly misreading anyone who disagrees. You need to listen a bit more to people or you’ll get just misunderstandings and pointless arguments, as this one right now.

    • avatar

      Well, they can give you neutral factual indexes, they can give you unbiased reports, but surely they won’t sate your confirmational bias. Have a lovely day

    • avatar

      @Martin: women need more men like you advocating for them. You can imagine that women only get laughed off trying to bring up the pay gap issue. The evidence is there in everybody’s face, but yet there are too many Ivans who shut us up shoving cherry-pick facts in our faces.

    • avatar

      Harvard Study: “Gender Wage Gap” Explained Entirely by Work Choices of Men and Women

  4. avatar
    catherine benning

    What’s the best way to achieve gender equality?

    There is no such thing as gender equality. To try and pretend there is an attempt to mislead and madden the citizen. What it should mean, is equality in recognition of each sex and respect for and love of each sexes differences. That will bring satisfaction. Not the mess we have now.


    This covers only the tip of the iceberg. As we all know, we are basically biologically different from each other in this male/female discussion. Not only physiologically but psychologically and the differences are dramatic. The horror of this scientific experiment is destroying our humanity. It is a move to systematically create mental torment in both sexes to insist we are ‘equal’ in our needs and expectations, the way it is taking place today. Firstly, the satisfaction and feeling of contentment as well as success requirements, in both sexes, is entirely different. Which means, if you force either sex to pretend they feel good and mentally stable taking up the roll of the other, you create a mentally unstable and dysfunctional society. Which we are experiencing at a rate unforeseen before in the human condition. Mick was light years ahead with his,
    ‘Can’t get no.’

    Rather than bringing the sexes together in understanding, this notion of gender equality in the form it is taking, is wrenching us apart. Don’t let them do it folks. Men and women need each other as they are created. They dove tail for a very good reason. It’s called survival.

  5. avatar
    Tarquin Farquhar

    Make all toilets unisex.

    Force all sexes to compete in unisex sports eg sprinting, weightlifting, marathon running, tennis etc etc

    Force all sexes to give birth.

    Force all sexes to generate semen.

    Force all sexes to have ovaries and testicles.

    When will this madness stop?!?!

    • avatar

      Lol. That will be good entertainment when the male football teams run through the female teams like it’s nothing. Or boxing, ladies would you have wanted to fight Tyson?
      I say let women be women and men be men. Women have advantages men don’t have and vice versa. ”Check your male privilege” must be the thought of some faux feminist man hater, how about women check their advantage eg when it’s time to pay in the restaurant, or when you want to go shopping, or pay for your own movie ticket. We men know your tricks very well.

  6. avatar

    Wage gap is a myth. If we want women as a whole to earn as much as men as a whole we need to promote science, engineering and other fields that provide bigger salaries, among young girls

  7. avatar
    catherine benning

    What’s the best way to achieve gender equality?

    A very good book to read, if your interest lies within the survival of our European culture, it is called: The Strange Death of Europe – Douglas Murray.

    It covers much of the PC manipulation we are forced to receive at an even more frantic rate than was previously taking place. Look at the wall to wall coverage, over the last few months, of the so called Royal wedding in the UK. We have suffered blow by blow, minute by minute, intense and ridiculous coverage, ending with a full blown American Southern Baptist show all day Saturday. Desperation in every respect. They know they have lost the match. No matter the fake news you hear. Now open schizophrenia has set in. An American feminist, preaching to ‘British’ women about her form of feminism, at her staged wedding, all glowing in ‘virginal’ white, after umpteen husbands and live in lovers, as she plans to leave and live off her husband prince and our subsequent tax payers, henceforth.

    Talk about lunatics taking over the asylum.

  8. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    Evolutionary 60 years: “ECSC, (EEC/EC/EU) 1951/57/93
    Revolutionary next 60 years? 2018 where to?

    A global trading giant?
    A global military giant?
    A global UN copy?
    A global refugee camp?
    A global neo cultural movement?
    A global HR court?
    A global donor?
    A global universal church?
    A global success or failure?
    What are the priorities?
    A global knows it all & does it all- (better)?

    Ok than, carry on regardless- lets ask China for advise!

  9. avatar
    EU Reform- Proactive

    By the way………..dear EU & Co,

    Should you wish to spend your time on real meaningful problems in this regard- why not assist true gender victims and global backwardness- not career hungry women wishing to become super famous & mega earners?

    Some chose the “risk”- not forced- to jump into the global shark pond of big money & glory!

    Help save Noura Hussein!

  10. avatar
    Bogdan Badea

    It’s a bad idea to try to have equality of sexes. The sexes are different in every meaningful way (part of it is genetics, part is indeed a social construct). It would only bring stress and unhappiness.

    What we need is equality of chance. Equal pay for equal work/experience. Equal rights. And I think in most EU countries the situation is not as bad as we are lead to believe.

  11. avatar

    Mostly by education and social awareness, less by making laws that are hard to apply

  12. avatar

    Debating Europe Why are you perpetuating left wing regressive fake news ?

    Gender inequality is a myth that as been busted many times & the only thing that matter is equality before the law and you already have it.

    • avatar

      The subtleties of his argument seem to be lost on you. Authoritarian right wingers don’t get it. You make complexity simple: ‘fake news’, ‘myth’. Grow out your idiocy and see that whilst you are staring at your glass screens and being angry the world is being stolen from under your feet. Revering the thieves (Jobs, Trump etc.) and hating the outsiders, the underprivileged.

    • avatar

      Robert Smith Thanks for the usual left wing denial of evidence & truth comrade. A pity you didn’t watch the video but then you have no interest in anything other than your identity politics nonsense so I’m not surprised. Here’s another one that you will probably denounce as right wing propaganda.

    • avatar

      So are you seriously trying to argue that women are equal to men in all areas? You listen to one discredited man and take it as gospel despite many companies, including the BBC admitting that there are massive discrepancies in their pay structure’s. Do yourself a favour and stop believing what you read/hear on social media. Perhaps you could source your evidence from peer reviewed research. Maybe then people will take you seriously

    • avatar

      Kirstie Mamoyo Rogers Name a law that they are not equal under ? I look forward to your answer.

    • avatar

      Ivan Burrows not only equal, women have more rights than man…especially in Europe.

  13. avatar

    equality of opportunity is reached, equality of results should depend on the individuals :)

  14. avatar

    by creating a totalitarian communist regime led by a dictator elected through a loto this way people gain power through luck. We will eradicate the need for money and everybody will be equal.

  15. avatar

    simply the best way for equality is not to make women weak with positive legislation, guardianship and discrimination.

    Equality is achieved by obtaining the best professional and most trained for the position regardless of the sex of the candidate.

  16. avatar

    Men and women are not equal or same and thats the charm. Labour market wants them same, towards descrease of costs, fight family etc.

  17. avatar

    Happy Women’s Day, ladies! Be strong! Be beautiful! Revolution against fascism is impossible without you!
    ,,The progress in society is measured by women’s quality of life.” – Karl Marx

  18. avatar

    It does not seem at all fair that there are social differences between men and women and that the latter receive a lower salary than men. I hope that the struggles for women’s rights end soon because it means that they have been fully respected.

  19. avatar

    We have already achieved it a long time ago. What you are asking is how to achieve gender equity. And before asking “how”, we should first as “why”.

  20. avatar

    Happy women’s day to all the women living in this world without any difference between religion, language, race, human.

  21. avatar

    Gender equality is achieved with laws and everything. Now it is mostly about how women can have more privileges than men.

  22. avatar

    How we can achieve gender equality is by paying people by how long, much and well they work. Don’t give a fixed salary but a range of what it could be and that range is the same for all genders.

  23. avatar

    Ancient Chinese philosophy believes the universe is made up with two opposite or contrary forces complementary, interconnected, and interdependent on each other so as to give the universe harmony, balance and long-lasting. It appears that many things, physical and natural phenomena do working this way. Gender equality is too vague. It needs to specify.

  24. avatar

    A way to achieve gender equality might be to properly address the role of woman in the family equally as man in the economy. Woman has been exploited by taking dual and triple roles as a working wife and mother.

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