Fostering a life-long gender equality culture through education


In July of 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) issued an exploratory opinion on Gender Equality at the request of the Czech presidency. It clarifies that success in enhancing gender equality in a sustainable manner throughout all member states is dependent on the ability to foster a life-long gender equality culture (LLGEC) throughout society.

The opinion touches on education, understanding that the cultivation of a LLGEC begins in early childhood education and must be reinforced throughout all school stages. It highlights the need for Member States, through education policy, to improve gender-neutral teaching as well as support the creation of learning contexts that are free from gender stereotypes.

It also, however, recognises that the creation of a life-long gender equality culture (LLGEC) cannot exclusively rely on changes to education policy. This is because a LLGEC can only be fostered when gender equality is mainstreamed and included in all aspects of life.

ETUCE welcomes that the opinion understands that central to mainstreaming gender equality is the active inclusion of social partners in decision-making processes. It explains that collective bargaining and other forms of social dialogue can enable gender-equality as a diversity of opinion can successfully engender outcomes that tackle pressing challenges such as the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions.

The EECS’ opinion ultimately requests that a range of actors to come together to launch an awareness-raising and information campaign. It additionally demands that policymakers introduce gender equality into a wide range of policy fields, including education, to enable a life-long gender equality culture (LLGEC) through gender mainstreaming.

Overall, ETUCE gladly receives the EECS’ opinion, reiterating that education is a segment of the labour market in Europe that is rife with gender inequality, with, among other causes for concern, men being overrepresented in leadership roles in a sector that is dominated by female workers. ETUCE has outlined its commitment to working with its members to overcome this, and improve gender equality at all levels of society, within its Action Plan on Gender Equality and reviewed its implementation at the recent Women’s Caucus organised in the framework of ETUCE Special Conference in July 2022 in Liege.