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Introducing quotas to increase women's representation in political, administrative and business bodies and reducing the pay gap between women and men to respond to the current crisis are among the many proposals that have been approved by the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights.
The resolution presents the annual report on the state of gender equality in the EU for 2011 and puts forward suggestions to improve it.
MEPs say that the current economic and financial crisis affects women more than men, due to current disparities in wages. They stress that economic recovery projects that are under way focus on male-dominated jobs, while women are under-represented in sectors such as renewable industry and science that are most likely to expand in the future.
The committee reiterates a demand for legislation to support equal payment for women and men for the same work and qualifications and calls for an EU equal pay target to reduce the gender pay gap by 10% in each EU country. MEPs also call on the Council to move forward on an amendment proposed by Parliament to the Maternity Leave Directive to ensure paid leave across the EU.
The gender pay gap has been only marginally reduced in recent years and, on average, women in the EU still earn 17.5% less than men, even though they make up 60% of new university graduates.
To address the issue of low women's representation in executive positions of European companies, MEPs call on the Commission to evaluate the measures so far adopted by EU countries. If these are found to be inadequate, the Commission should put forward a legislative proposal to introduce quotas to increase female representation in corporate management bodies to 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020, says the text. On average in the EU, only 12% of executives are women, and only 3% of chairpersons.