The European Charter for Equality of Women and Men in Local Life was created in view of the fact that, despite its formal legal recognition, gender equality has still not been achieved at many levels. In many areas of public and private life women are disadvantaged compared to men. For example, there are some serious disparities in pay, and women are not sufficiently represented at many decision-making levels of politics and business. A rigid stereotype thinking in families, in culture, in the media, in the world of work and in education reinforces these inequalities.
Local governments are closest to the citizens and can therefore take direct action leading to improvements in equality between women and men.
What does equality mean?
Creating equality means combatting discrimination and disadvantage - or, in other words: ensuring barrier-free access to opportunities, services and products of the municipality as well as ensuring equal access to them. So that access and participation is actually ensured it is necessary to guarantee a systematic sensitivity to target groups when developing products and Services.
What does the Charter recommend?
The signatories commit themselves to establish action plans within two years after signing and to provide the necessary resources for implementing these plans adequately. They should be reviewed, developed and published at regular intervals. Expert opinions can be sought when establishing the plans; in addition, the municipalities can take part in a Europe-wide evaluation process to assess progress and learn from each other.
- Children and young people
- Elderly and old people
- People with disabilities and with differing health restrictions
- People with immigration histories
- People of different sexual orientation
- People of different social origin, different involvement in a career or a different income situations
- People with different lifestyles such as: living alone, domestic partnership, single parents, domestic partnership with children or with elderly people
- Appropriate gender balance in decision-making
- Eliminating gender stereotypes
- Improving compatibility of professional and parental or caring responsibilities for women and men
- Improving equal participation of women in working life: Improving labour market access, reducing over-representation in part-time positions and intermittent career patterns
- Reducing gender gaps in pay and under-representation of women in management positions as well as over-representation in few and mainly poorly paid professions
- Reducing under-representation of men in the caring professions and in the education and training of children
- Improving the equitable distribution of housework and caring for children and the elderly
- Combatting gender-based violence
As of 1st of March 2015, 39 German municipalities, rural districts and associations of cities and towns have signed the Charter (Council of European Municipalities and Regions). When Heidelberg signed the Charter on 29 March 2007 it became the first city in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and after Bonn the second German city of over 100,000 inhabitants to do so.