Gender equality is a fundamental value and right promoted by the EU. Significant progress has been achieved over the past few decades, but gender inequalities persist, particularly in the labour market. Social partners, and more broadly industrial relations, are central to understanding the functioning of European labour markets as they shape the work environment. Institutional characteristics associated to industrial relations could therefore be important factors for achieving gender equality in the labour market. However, the links between industrial relations and gender equality have not been fully characterised as most of the available evidence tends to narrow both (complex) concepts to specific dimensions (e.g. wage bargaining/trade union membership and the gender pay gap).
The EU-funded VIRAGE project aimed to fill this gap by providing comparative and cross-country knowledge on the role played by industrial relations’ structures and actors in addressing gender equality in European labour markets. It also worked to identify factors related to social dialogue that can help achieve gender equality for more inclusive and fair societies. The report’s main conclusions confirm the importance of industrial relations for the promotion of gender equality and can be seen as aligned with the recent initiative to strengthen social dialogue as part of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. The findings strongly support the idea that more social dialogue is beneficial for gender equality and, as such, reinforcing social dialogue should contribute to closing gender gaps in the labour market.