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Cohesion policy must do more to promote gender equality in Europe  
Cohesion policy must address the issues of gender equality and women's participation in the labour market, which are crucial to envisage greater economic and social cohesion in Europe. This is the call included in an opinion drafted by Donatella Porzi, Regional Councillor for the Region of Umbria (Italy), which was adopted by the plenary of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 2 December. Local and regional leaders consider of paramount importance for the gender perspective also to be incorporated into the national recovery and resilience plans.

During the plenary debate on the opinion on the gender dimension of structural and cohesion funds 2021-27 , members of the CoR stressed the importance of gender equality to pursue economic, social and territorial cohesion in Europe. Gender equality should be thus a cross-cutting criterion for the drawing-up of cohesion policy programmes, a goal to be pursued by the programmes, and a powerful factor that is necessary to achieve cohesion policy's sustainable and balanced development.

The rapporteur Donatella Porzi (IT/PES), Regional Councillor for the Region of Umbria, said: " Cohesion policy is supposed to reduce regional economic and social disparities, but what does it do to reduce gender inequality? In the context of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery, it is crucial to find concrete tools to promote gender equality to help our society as a whole. Cohesion funds can have a concrete impact when it comes to improving childcare policies, supporting female entrepreneurship or promoting women's participation in the labour market in rural areas, just to name a few. A just transition must start from here ."

Monika Vana (AT/GREEN), Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on the gender dimension of cohesion policy, joined the debate during the plenary.

CoR members underline that cohesion policy and the ways operational programmes are set up can make a particular contribution to a real increase in equality between men and women, with regard to the volume of funding and its nature and targeting. Therefore, they call for the contribution to gender equality not to be considered a prerogative of the European Social Fund alone, but as coming from all the funds. This includes the fund for regional development ( ERDF ) and the one for agriculture and rural development ( EAFRD ), where the issue of gender equality and women's participation in the labour market is often more pronounced.

Local and regional leaders recommend that the authorities managing European programmes for 2021-27 develop projects and measures aimed at promoting gender equality, such as support work-life balance and encourage the reintegration of women who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis hit indeed particularly hard sectors employing a high number of women, such as health care and child care, thus exacerbating gender inequalities.

Finally, CoR members consider of paramount importance for the gender perspective also to be incorporated into the Next Generation EU national recovery plans, and the principles and tools for gender assessment applied to the main projects.

As a first step, the European Commission is planning to present next year a new methodology for assessing the impact on gender equality of a number of EU funded programmes which are directly managed by the Commission itself. The initiative does not include, for the moment, cohesion policy's programmes, but could be enlarged to all shared management programmes at a later stage.


On 24 November the CoR's Commission for the Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE) adopted a draft opinion entitled " Gender equality and Climate change: towards mainstreaming the gender perspective in the European Green Deal " (rapporteur: Kata Tüttő, HU, PES). The text will be voted by the Plenary in January 2022.

In the opinion " A Union of Equality: Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 " (rapporteur: Concepción Andreu Rodríguez, ES, PES), the CoR “ asks the EU institutions, including the Committee of the Regions, to adopt codes of conduct favouring the participation of women and men on equal terms with regard to composition and leadership positions, with the ultimate aim being gender parity between CoR members ."

The CoR as EU body has adopted a gender strategy in 2018 that is being updated on regular basis. In March 2018, the CoR Bureau adopted a “no male-only panel policy for own, hosted and co-organised events and conferences.”

All the information on the CoR's activity to promote gender balance at local and regional level can be found here .


Matteo Miglietta

Tel. +32 (0)470 895 382

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