SDG 5: Gender Equality
1. EU Programmes likely to be relevant for libraries
Local Authorities – International Cooperation and Development
In the past two decades, the importance of Local Authorities (LAs) and Associations of Local Authorities (ALAs) in addressing the complexities of sustainable development and fighting poverty have been increasingly recognised, by both the EU and its partner countries. Indeed, as the public institutions closest to citizens, local authorities hold responsibility to execute a mandate to satisfy their constituencies’ needs, mainly through the provision of basic services. They have opportunities to mobilise their local communities, in most of the cases, while acting as catalysts for change.
New Cohesion policy (2021-2027)
A focus on five investment priorities, where the EU is best placed to deliver.
The main objectives driving EU investments in 2021-2027 are :
- Regional development investments will strongly focus on objectives 1 - to promote the development and adjustment of regions whose development is lagging behind - and 2 - covers regions struggling with structural difficulties and helps to reduce gaps in socio-economic development.
- 65% to 85% of ERDF and Cohesion Fund resources will be allocated to these priorities, depending on Member States’ relative wealth.
- Smarter Europe, through innovation, digitisation, economic transformation and support to small and medium-sized businesses.
- a Greener, carbon free Europe, implementing the Paris Agreement and investing in energy transition, renewables and the fight against climate change.
- a more Connected Europe, with strategic transport and digital networks.
- a more Social Europe, delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights and supporting quality employment, education, skills, social inclusion and equal access to healthcare.
- a Europe closer to citizens, by supporting locally-led development strategies and sustainable urban development across the EU.
Fight against all discriminations – International cooperation and development
As part of its development cooperation, the EU supports the action of anti-discrimination movements, namely the ones focusing on the rights of women, children, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people and other minorities. It also supports initiatives defending the rights of indigenous peoples.
Rights at work
Every EU worker has certain minimum rights relating to:
- health and safety at work: general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers
- equal opportunities for women and men: equal treatment at work, pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave
- protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation
- labour law: part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees
European Institute for Gender Equality
EIGE collects, analyses, processes and disseminates data and information on gender equality issues, whilst at the same time making them comparable, reliable and relevant for the users.
Focused actions to combat violence against women
Violence against women is endemic in the European Union. Since the age of 15: a) one in three women has experienced sexual and/or physical violence; b) one in three has experienced psychologically abusive behaviour by an intimate partner; c) one in two (55%) have experienced sexual harassment.
Sustainable and responsible supply chains - International cooperation and development
International manufacturing is increasingly organised in Global Value Chains (GVC). This means that when you buy a shirt in Europe, it may have been sewn in Cambodia, using cloth manufactured in China from cotton grown in Uzbekistan and coloured with dyes from India. As a result, individual choices made by consumers in Europe may have consequences that impact on the lives of workers and communities in multiple countries across the world.
This initiative takes into account the developments in society over the past decade in order to enable parents and people with caring responsibilities to better balance their work and family lives and to encourage a better sharing of caring responsibilities between women and men. It is based on the results of the public consultation and two-stage social partner consultation, and the analysis of the accompanying impact assessment.
For the preparation of an EU common position, European Council conclusions were adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May 2016 on the European Union and its Member States' objectives and priorities for the Habitat III Conference. In its conclusions, the Council welcomes the Discussion Paper elaborated by the Commission and endorse the proposed four strings of action as priority areas for the New Urban Agenda, namely:
- Promoting the social dimension of sustainable urban development through inclusive and save cities in order to better fight against urban poverty and exclusion.
- Promoting green and resilient cities. Environmental sustainability is fundamental to ensuring the prosperity and well-being of all people within planetary boundaries.
- Promoting prosperous and innovative cities with a particular focus on growth and job creation.
- Promoting good urban governance by strengthening the capacity of the authorities at all levels of government in integrated planning and public finance management, by establishing adequate legal and policy frameworks, by fostering access to public and private investments by municipalities, and by fostering women empowerment in urban governance matters.
Single Market for Green Products Initiative (Eco.innovation)
A company wishing to market its product as environmentally friendly in several Member State markets faces a confusing range of choices of methods and initiatives. Sometimes they have to use different ones for different markets. This results in costs for companies and confusion for consumers.
The European Commission proposed the Product Environmental Footprint and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods as a common way of measuring environmental performance.
The approach was tested between 2013-2018 together with more than 280 volunteering companies and organisations. The results and reports of the pilot phase are available.
Based on the results of the testing, the European Commission is now exploring how to use the Product and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods in policies. The European Commission is launching a series of consultations on this subject.
2. Library Policies and Best Practices
“The services of the public library are provided on the basis of equality of access for all, regardless of age, race, sex, religion, nationality, language or social status.” (IFLA UNESCO Public Library Manifesto, 1994),
“Library services should be provided to citizens without regard to race, nationality, religion, culture, politics, age, physical or learning impairment, gender, or sexual orientation” (Council of Europe /EBLIDA Guidelines on Library Legislation and Policy in Europe, 2000)
The principle of non-discrimination is embodied in all declaration of principles elaborated by international, European and national library associations. SDG 5, however, is not limited to principles; it aims to promote positive policies and measures intending to fully implement gender equality. Library campaigns in SDG 5 may help promote the European Union Social Charter and the European Pillar of Social Rights as keystone for a sustainable society.
Library projects may address the violence perpetrated against women and, more in general, against vulnerable groups of people. The concept of the library as a “safe space”, where survivors of rape or incest could talk about their experiences without judgement, and where LTGB communities feel confident - here are a few policy objectives for a positive policy.
(Rachel S. Wexelbaum. Advances in Library Administration and Organization: The Future of Library Space, Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Editors: Samantha Schmehl Hines, Kathryn Moore Crowe, pp. 37-78.)
According to Ulla Wimmer, "libraries have a big role to play in SDG 5, and not because of the dominant number of women who are librarians. One reason is that reading is an activity that - according to all surveys - more women practice than men. Libraries pay attention to children and to young people and are places that can be trusted by parents. Libraries are a space where children are allowed to go on their own and decide what to choose very early in life. They can develop their own interests and world views. This has an emancipating effect - you decide what to read, watch, hear or play, without a teacher or parent. In countries where gender equality is far from being achieved, emancipation from discriminatory habits also applies to older girls and even women: the library is one of the few public places they can visit on their own.”
The most ambitious policy proposal covering SDG 5 has been made by the Spanish Consejo de Cooperación Bibliotecaria (Council of Library Cooperation) and consists of re-thinking the whole of the Spanish library system as an institutional engine designed to attain SDG 5: Gender equality. In this way, library results may be aggregated and indicators re-assessed and aligned with UN-SDG and Eurostat indicators.
[III Plan Estratégico del CCB 2019‐2023. Bibliotecas en Igualdad, https://www.ccbiblio.es/wp-content/uploads/III-Plan-Estrat%C3%A9gico-CCB-def.pdf (Fevrero 2019)].
3. Opportunities for library funding
This Chapter refers to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) 2021-2027, and in particular to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund+ (ESF).
In order to make the most out of these Funds, first refer to the ESIF managing authorities, which are different in every Member State and are responsible for national operational programmes and policies. The list of national authorities, country after country, and region after region, is available at the following link, https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/en/atlas/managing-authorities/.
In the Table(s) below, for each ESIF objective: Column 1 designates the ERDF or ESF+ specific objective. Column 2 and 3 set, respectively, the related outputs and results indicated by ESIF official documents. It can be easily inferred that European Commission criteria for evaluation are quite general and do not get into the detail of the programmes. It is up to Member States to set additional criteria for evaluation.
Finally, Column 4 lists examples of library projects set up to pursue ESIF objectives or to attain specific Sustainable Development Goals. ESIF-funded and SDG-oriented library projects are matched with specific ESIF 2021-2027 objectives and sub-objectives; what is shown in the table, however, is a simulation: under which presumed ESIF specific objective could SDG-oriented library projects have been funded, if they were to be presented within the ESIF 2021-2027 framework?
More detailed information on the Library Projects listed in Column 5 can be found in the Sustainable Development Goals and Libraries - First European Report..
4. Main Eurostat Indicators
Key trends in "Gender Equality” in the European Union show the following evidence (Eurostat Report, pp. 115 and ss):
- One in three women in Europe has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15;
- The gender gap in early school leavers is narrowing;
- Although more women than men have completed tertiary education, the employment rate of female graduates is lower;
- Gender equality has improved slightly in the labour market, but many women remain inactive due to caring responsibilities;
- The gender pay gap has decreased slightly in recent years;
- The gender employment gap has stagnated over the past few years, and women are still less likely to be employed than men;
- Caring responsibilities were by far the main reason for inactivity among women;
- The share of seats held by women in national parliaments has increased steadily since 2003;
- In 2018, a quarter of the board members of the largest listed companies were women.
Goal 5’s attainment is monitored through the following main indicators: Source: EU SDG Indicator set 2020:
5. Library Indicators
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Library Indicators enabling the evaluation of library performances and how they can match SDG indicators.
"Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls"
Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls and empowering women are crucial to accelerating sustainable development. Empowerment of women and the realisation of gender equality depends on the balanced participation of women and men in formal education, in the labour market and in leadership positions. Equal access to quality education, especially tertiary education, helps to improve chances in life for both men and women. Moreover, closing the gender employment gap is an urgent economic and social objective, for the individual as well as for society as a whole. In addition, promoting equality between women and men in decision-making has been a key objective of European policy for many years. Another important aspect is the elimination of physical and sexual violence against women, which is not only a consequence of gender inequality, but reinforces disparities between women and men.
Within the EU, gender equality has made steady progress over the last decades, through legislation and integration of the gender perspective into all other policies and specific measures.
Targets and Indicators: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5
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