Responding to the UN campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2018 #PressforProgress, Europe focuses on the future seeking the ways to ensure more women and girls in leadership, media and ICT, and to advance equality in the digital age. On 8 March 2018, the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is holding an inter-parliamentary committee meeting to discuss information and communication technologies as a powerful tool for advancing gender equality and providing women and girls with new opportunities, as well as means of expression and participation.

Contributing to the campaign with a focus on work-life balance to tackle the obstacles that still prevent women from realising their potential, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and trade unions across Europe are calling for the adoption of the proposed EU Directive on work-life balance in order to enhance women’s employment opportunities and enable a more equal distribution of family-related leave between men and women.

On the International Women’s Day, ETUCE reiterates that education is vital to empowering women, and women working in the education sector deserve respect and fair working conditions, as well as all education personnel.

'Achieving gender equality in education and society in the close future requires strong representation and participation of women in decision-making at all levels, as well as better work-life balance regulations in Europe, including parental and care leave, the European Director Susan Flocken stated with a view to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights that includes important chapters on gender equality and education. “Teachers, academics, other education personnel and their unions have a key role in changing society, combating gender stereotypes and transmitting role models for girls and boys that lead to an improvement in women's participation to the labour market. Education trade unions can make a difference especially in times when extremism, right-wing populism, and violence threaten democratic citizenship”.

ETUCE also promotes the idea of enhancing the gender perspective of digitalisation and closing the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics related academic and educational fields, where women are significantly less represented. In the Policy paper on the 21st Century Teaching Profession and the Use of ICT, ETUCE member organisations call for non-discriminatory access to ICT and overcoming the stereotypical use of ICT.

The importance of overcoming gender inequalities and fostering women leadership in education, as well as various challenges women face in the ‘labyrinth’ of career progress, were discussed at the 3rd International Women’s Conference organised by Education International in Marrakesh on 5-7 February 2018. Among other topics, participants addressed the impact gender-based violence and harassment have on women’s personal development and their career.