- European Union Publications Office
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This report explores the current position in regard to gender equality as a field of intervention in European Public Employment Services (PES). Information was obtained from individual PES through their completion of a survey questionnaire distributed through the EU PES Network and to which 25 PES Network members responded. Addressing gender discrimination in the labour market has been a priority of European employment policy since the foundation of the European Economic Community. The EU PES Network Decision establishing the PES Network noted its central contribution to the achievement of a 75% employment rate for women and men as stated in the Europe 2020 strategy. The current PES Network Strategy Paper has reiterated PES commitment to this agenda. ESF has been an especially important vehicle enabling activities to promote labour market gender equality. This has been a prominent feature since at least the 2000-2007 programming period. This has been further advanced during the 2014-2020 period, particularly through the thematic objective to promote sustainable and quality employment and support labour mobility. At the time of writing (November 2020) the European economy is in the midst of very significant disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst the longer-term consequences remain a subject of considerable debate it is already clear from the immediate impact that policy interventions are urgently needed to mitigate the risk of adverse labour market consequences falling disproportionately on women. It is also recognised that the crisis can present opportunities to enhance gender equality, and for these to be realised national policies will need to be efficiently implemented, and PES are key actors in facilitating this.