Labour MEPs voted today for European action to promote greater equality between women and men. Conservative MEPs voted against.
MEPs voted by 441-205 to adopt a report by Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella that addresses a number of key issues, including: reducing the gender pay and pension gaps; combating violence against women; and promoting paid paternity leave to enable fathers to look after their new-born children.
Labour MEP for the South West and Gibraltar, Clare Moody, who sits on the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee in the European Parliament, said:
“The context of this report is key. Since the financial crash of 2008, across Europe women have disproportionately suffered at the hands of austerity-bent governments. In Tory Britain alone, research by the House of Commons Library showed that of the £26 billion revenue raised by tax and benefit changes since 2010, 85% has been taken from the pockets of women.
"On several of the most important equality indicators, such as pay, pensions, and the numbers of women in full employment, women are still losing out. At the current rate of progress it will take decades for women to catch up in these areas.
"The Tarabella report is about levelling the playing field. The European Parliament has already done so much to advance the cause of women’s rights - particularly in the workplace - but, now as much as any other time, we must go further and faster if we are ever to achieve equality.”
Mary Honeyball MEP, Labour's European spokesperson on women's rights and gender equality, said:
"By voting against this report, Tory MEPs have once again demonstrated their true position on women's rights, while Labour MEPs are leading the way by taking action in promoting gender equality.
"This report highlights areas where urgent action is needed if we are to achieve targets on gender equality, particularly in the area of women's employment.
"Our economic recovery has been one of low wage, temporary and insecure work and this has hit women disproportionately hard. Persistent gender gaps in pay and pensions demonstrate there is still a very long way to go. "What was at stake here is not just women's economic empowerment but our investment in Europe's future."