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Diversity and inclusion

U4U is working on policies to improve the representation and inclusion of diversity in the European institutions.

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Women and trade unions in Europe

The effects of women’s involvement in trade unions

In recent years, there has been a marked increase in the number of women involved in trade unions in Europe[1]. This change can be seen not only in terms of membership, but also in leadership positions. In France, the two largest trade unions are headed by women (Marylise Léon for the CFDT and Sophie Binet for the CGT), as is the case in Germany, where Yasmine Fahimi heads a confederation of trade unions “with around 6 million members”[2], and in the UK, where two women also head the country’s two largest trade unions. The growing presence of women in these organisations and on the labour market is said to have a major influence on equal pay policies and policies aimed at reconciling family and professional life (parental leave, childcare, etc.). This was shown by Grant Miller, professor of economics at Stanford University, who compared public spending on social services before and after women’s right to vote was extended in the United States, and observed a 24% increase. However, women’s participation in trade union activity has come up against a number of obstacles, firstly the fact that trade unions have generally lost influence over the years, but also the fact that many of them (29% in the EU) say they work part-time because of their family responsibilities[3].

At the European Commission and other EU institutions and departments, we are seeing a similar trend towards the feminisation of management positions in staff representation at both trade union and statutory level.

[1] Papalexatou, Chrysa. « La participation des femmes à la vie politique renforce les politiques familiales », Capital Grèce, 01 septembre 2023. [En ligne], URL :

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.