Gender equality, a key issue on the European Agenda.

Ministers and top-level political representatives from the EU will be taking part in the European “Women in Power” summit in Cádiz on 3 February, which will be opened by the First Vice-president of the Spanish Government, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the Minister of Equality, Bibiana Aído, and the United Kingdom's Minister for Women and Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman.

A political declaration is expected to be signed at the event, which is hoped to give a "definitive boost" to the issue of gender equality in the EU, Bibiana Aído said on 27 January. The ministers will analyse national policies introduced during the current economic situation and will attempt to ensure that gender equality is included in Member States' agendas.

The European Women's Forum, Beijing +15, will start the next day, also in Cadiz, and will look at the degree to which the strategic objectives and measures established during the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, have been achieved.

The report prepared by the Swedish Presidency of the EU on Member States' compliance with the action plan approved at the Beijing conference 15 years ago will also be presented during this forum, which will be held on February 4 and 5.

This document is the third to examine EU-wide progress on the 12 areas of particular concern within the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and is based on the EU's follow-up report released in 2000 and the report produced by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU in 2005.

EU ministers and representatives of Member State governments, the European Parliament, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and women's organisations from Spain and Europe will take part in the European Women's Forum, Beijing +15. Various discussion groups will focus on issues such as health and violence, the economy, education and the media.   

Achieving more equality between women and men in Europe has been a key priority for the European Commission over the past five years. In fact, there is a Commission's Roadmap for equality between women and men, adopted in 2006  under the Progress Programme framework, and Institute for gender equality opened its doors in Vilnius in December 2009.