European Parliament: achievements on the Equality between men and women

“Equality between women and men is one of the objectives of the European Union. Over time, legislation, case-law and changes to the Treaties have helped shore up this principle and its implementation in the EU. The European Parliament has always been a fervent defender of the principle of equality between men and women.”

Legal basis

The principle that men and women should receive equal pay for equal work has been enshrined in the European Treaties since 1957 (today: Article 157 TFEU). Besides, Article 153 TFEU allows the EU to act in the wider area of equal opportunities and equal treatment in matters of employment and occupation. Within this framework, Article 157 TFEU furthermore authorises positive action to empower women. In addition, Article 19 TFEU enables legislation to combat all forms of discrimination, including on the basis of sex. Legislation against trafficking in human beings, in particular women and children, has been adopted on the basis of Articles 79 and 83 TFEU, and the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme finances, among others, measures contributing to the eradication of violence against women, based on Article 168 TFEU.


The European Union is founded on a set of values, including equality, and promotes equality between men and women (Articles 2 and 3(3) TEU). These objectives are also enshrined in Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Besides, Article 8 TFEU gives the Union the task of eliminating inequalities and promoting equality between men and women through all its activities (this concept is also known as ‘gender mainstreaming’). The Union and the Member States have committed themselves, in Declaration No 19 annexed to the Final Act of the Intergovernmental Conference which adopted the Treaty of Lisbon, ‘to combat all kinds of domestic violence […], to prevent and punish these criminal acts and to support and protect the victims’.


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