"Education and training of girls and women is a human right and an essential element for the full enjoyment of all other social, economic, cultural and political rights", says the Parliament in an own-initiative report drafted by Vera Flasarová (GUE/NGL, CZ).
The House believes a range of measures are needed to tackle educational discrimination between men and women in Europe.
In the European Union women make less progress overall than men through the education system, including life-long learning, on account of diverse gender-related restrictions, say MEPs. The rapporteur lists a number of barriers: economic factors in socially disadvantaged families; gender-based prejudices in the choice of field of study; gender-based reasons hindering the completion of studies and preventing young women from improving their existing qualifications; prejudice against educated women; religious prejudice preventing women from fulfilling their potential in society in certain countries; difficulty of access to education for girls and young women from immigrant or minority backgrounds.
Among its recommendations, the European Parliament suggests that policy in the area of equal access to education should involve an assessment of gender-differentiated statistics. It also recommends that Member States create and monitor national educational policies designed to enable all girls to complete compulsory schooling.
Special policies are needed for national, ethnic and cultural minorities, especially the Roma minority, including pre-school and zero grade programmes, with a multicultural approach to combat double discrimination. Action is also urged to protect the rights of immigrant women and girls and combat the discrimination they face in their communities of origin by rejecting all forms of cultural and religious relativism which could violate women's fundamental rights.
Member States should devise more flexible adult education and lifelong learning programmes so that working women and mothers are able to continue their education in programmes that fit in with their schedules.
The pay gap between women and men remains high: on average women earn 15% less than men, which is the result both of non-compliance with equal pay legislation and structural inequalities such as labour market segregation, differences in work patterns, access to education and training, biased evaluation and pay systems and stereotypes.
Member States are urged to encourage access by women to positions of responsibility and decision-making in public and private undertakings. Particular attention should be paid to academic positions: in education and research, women outnumber men as graduates (59%), yet their presence decreases consistently as they progress on the career ladder, from 43% of PhDs down to only 15% of full professors.