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Gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors

Intersectional gender gap persists in almost all cultural and creative sectors, with cultural professionals  experiencing discrimination based on their gender identities. Female artists and cultural workers across the EU typically have less access to creation and production resources, are paid much less than men and are underrepresented in leadership and other decision-making positions, as well as on the market, several reports argue (see, among others, ‘Inégalités entre les femmes et les hommes dans les arts et la culture’,  ‘Women in Music, Associació de Professionals de Circ de Catalunya). 

The 2019-2022 Work Plan for Culture recognises that “gender equality is a pillar of cultural diversity and has a key role to play in challenging stereotypes and promoting societal change.” After the EU-wide study on gender gaps in the cultural and creative sectors and the 2019 ‘Voices of culture’ structured dialogue between representatives of the sectors and the Commission, the Open Method of Coordination (OMC) expert group on gender equality worked in the last year and a half to suggest a set of policy recommendations and actions in response to these challenges under the new Creative Europe programme. Members of the OMC expert group are appointed by the Member States.

The outcome is the OMC report “Towards gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors”, published at the beginning of June. Focused on “female artists and cultural workers”, and with less emphasis on other genders, the report reveals and confirms existing and generally known gender gaps and imbalances, similar to those prevalent in other sectors. However, it delineates how specific working conditions in the cultural and creative sectors drive certain disparities, as well as the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality in the CCS . The report provides selected good practices as well as a wide range of recommendations for implementation.

Disparities may differ across sub-sectors and between Member States but “the underrepresentation of women in prestigious and influential decision-making and leadership positions, the obvious gender pay gap, and the crucial element of unpaid care work require change and need to be tackled with further measures”, reads the document. The central topics and recommendations selected by the experts of the OMC group  include topics such as gender-sensitive and gender-inclusive language, intersectionality, the importance of reliable and comparable data, end to sexual harassment, gender pay gap as well as equal access to the labour market, to resources and leadership positions. 

As foreseen in the Work Plan for Culture, in November 2020 the German Presidency of the EU Council put forward draft conclusions on gender equality in the field of culture, a topic included among the Presidency’s priorities. Given that three national delegations (Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria) did not support the text, it was then adopted with the formula of “Presidency Conclusions”.