Mikado sticks scattered on white background

“You can’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been,” said poet Maya Angelou. Her words resonate with the European Union at a crossroads for gender equality. 

There’s never been a more important time to understand the progress we’ve made, as we face up to the many challenges ahead. 

EIGE today launches its paper on the evolution of the EU’s policy and legal approaches to gender equality. It provides context to help make future policies work.  

“The European Union and its Member States can be proud of the legal and policy frameworks it put in place to promote gender equality,” says EIGE Director Carlien Scheele. 

“And yet, as our latest Index results show, there is so much that remains to be done to really get full gender equality off the ground.  

I’m particularly interested for EIGE to further work with all our partners to look into how to address intersecting inequalities and I believe that the Commission’s Union of Equality Strategies offer a solid basis to work from.” 

Today’s paper sets out how the EU has moved from economic arguments such as the need for equal pay to the principle of fully-fledged equal treatment between women and men in all their diversity.  

EU milestones on the road to gender equality 

  • 1957 — The Treaty of Rome recognises the principle of equal pay for equal work between women and men.  
  • 1992 — The Treaty of Maastricht defines "equality" as a common European value. 
  • 1997 — The Treaty of Amsterdam recognises: equality between women and men; equality in employment; and non-discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation. 
  • 2000 — The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation. 
  • 2007 — The Treaty of Lisbon incorporates equality into EU external action and the fight against human trafficking, especially of women and children. 
  • 2020–2025 — EU gender equality strategy enhances awareness of sex, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics as part of the drive to the ‘Union of equality.’ 


Download the paper