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Open call for proposals to address: A) equal participation of women and men in public fora, in leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector; B) to support public authorities and civil society ... - REC-RGEN-WWLB-AG-2018
Deadline: 19 Jun 2018   CALL EXPIRED

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Priorities and activities to be co-financed

1. Priorities

A) The aim of the priority is to support projects promoting equality for women and men in public debates, in leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector.

Women in the EU make up more than half of the population and of the electorate. Equal participation of women and men in public life and in politics is a matter of justice, respect for human rights and good governance. Gender balanced decision-making is also needed to reflect the composition of society, strengthen democracy and add new perspectives into the political debate. However, women continue to be under-represented in decision-making positions in politics at national and European level and progress has been slow and uneven, even if the situation varies greatly between Member States.

Moreover, women continue to be severely under-represented in leadership positions in the corporate sector, even if the economic and business case for gender balance in leadership is well established. Progress has been slow and mostly concentrated in countries that have adopted legislative measures to improve the situation. Supporting of initiatives by stakeholders such as awareness-raising; further development/dissemination of practical tools (European databases of qualified women, training programmes for women candidates, etc.); exchange of good practice and networking between key stakeholders are necessary to complement the Commission's legislative proposal on women on boards and to make further progress on the topic.

Women's voices and expertise are also under-represented in the media and in public debates and when women express themselves in these fora, they are often confronted with stereotypes and sexism. This contributes to further preventing women from participating in public debates.

For this reason, and in continuity with the current practice, activities will be implemented through an open call for proposals addressed to national ministries', NGOs or networks of NGOs, other non-profit organisations, social partners. The call aims to co-fund, inter alia, national/European information, awareness-raising, mentoring and training activities, further developing/dissemination of tools or strategies to support gender balance and networking and testing and exchange of best practice between the relevant stakeholders.

B) The aim of the priority is to support projects aiming at better enforcement of EU law on work-life balance and in particular of protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment due to pregnancy or parenthood.

Addressing women's underrepresentation in the labour market is the main objective of the Commission's recent initiative on Work-Life Balance for parents and carers, a concrete deliverable of the Pillar, adopted on 27 April 2017, which aims at modernising the current EU legal and policy frameworks for work-life balance. In order to enhance reconciliation between work and private life for men and women, a multifaceted approach is needed. Hence a comprehensive package of measures is included in the Initiative on work life balance for working parents and carers, including a measures to enhance a better share of care responsibilities, the modernisation of family leaves and flexible working arrangements, access to high quality and affordable care responsibilities, measures to tackling financial disincentives for second earners and, last but not least, effective legal protection, for instance in case of dismissal for pregnant workers and workers on and returning from family leaves.

Protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment is provided under EU law through the Maternity Leave Directive, the Part-time Work Directive, the Gender Equality Directive, the Directive on equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and the Parental Leave Directive. The protection has been reinforced by the case-law of the European Court of Justice. Unfavourable treatment of women when they become pregnant and for women and men due to take leave is still being reported in many Member States. It is therefore necessary to better inform workers and support them in the exercise of their rights to ensure that they are able to enforce them more effectively at the national level.

The Commission has ordered a legal study on dismissal protection in the countries and will organise, jointly with EQUINET, a capacity building seminar for equality bodies and labour inspectorates. The current call for projects aims to co-fund projects to raise awareness, develop tools and new approaches as well as analytical activities with regard to measures to enhance work-life balance and effective dismissal protection for workers with care responsibilities.

2. Description of the activities

Project activities may include:


  • awareness-raising, communication activities (campaigns, etc);

  • capacity building, mentoring and training programmes for women candidates (and for journalists);

  • seminars and conferences;

  • develop/disseminate practical tools to increase gender balance;

  • exchange of good practice and successful strategies and networking between stakeholders.

Activities should have an impact on equal opportunities for women and men in public life and in particular leadership positions in politics and in the corporate sector.


  • awarness-raising activities, communications campaign aimed at:
    • employers, underlining the economic benefits of unlocking and retaining the talent and experience of pregnant women and new mothers;
    • employers to better know and comply with their legal obligations;
    • employees to better know their rights;
  • testing, developing and disseminating creative approaches to:
    • attract, develop and retain women in the workforce before, during and after pregnancy;
    • facilitate the process to report and raise a complaint when a discriminatory practice occurs (clear complaints procedures, lower financial costs);
    • implement an efficient monitoring (of practices in companies such as recruitment practices and of early conciliation cases);
  • analytical activities such as development of ex ante evaluation, impact assessment of measures aimed at:

    • tackling practices such as employers seeking information about women’s pregnancy, motherhood or plans to have children that could be used to discriminate unlawfully during recruitment or white dismissal;
    • supporting small and medium-sized employers to spread the cost of providing enhanced maternity/parental pay (where they wish to do so) and cover for maternity/paternity/parental leave such as collective insurance schemes.

3. Expected results


  • The relevant actors (governments, political parties, civil society, social partners, corporate sector, media, general public) are sensitized about the under-representation of women in leadership positions in politics at national and EU level and in private and public companies. They are informed on the benefits of balanced participation of women and men in leadership and on successful strategies to improve the situation. Practical tools are made available and used to support businesses and qualified women aspiring for leadership positions;

  • Concrete actions are implemented by stakeholders to increase gender balance in politics at national level and/or at EU level. Sexism is less prevalent in politics and public debates;

  • Concrete actions are implemented by stakeholders to increase gender balance in leadership in the corporate sector. Tools for sensitizing and supporting business and women aspiring for leadership positions to improve the situation are prepared, disseminated and used by relevant stakeholders. The number of women candidates and recruited to leadership positions in the corporate sector is expected to increase.


  • Better enforcement of EU law on work-life balance and in particular of protection against dismissal and unfavourable treatment due to pregnancy or parenthood;

  • Employers are aware of their legal obligations towards pregnant women and parents;

  • Pregnant women and parents are better aware of their rights;

  • Decrease in discriminatory practices due to pregnancy and parenthood.

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