Gender equality in work

The European Social Fund has always set a high priority on freeing access to the labour market and encouraging people of all kinds to achieve their full potential. This results in benefits to the individual and to the economy as a whole. Levelling the playing field between men and women continues to be viewed as a key strategic priority.

ESF in England features work aimed at developing a more open and flexible labour market, recognising the need to circumvent barriers of attitude, work and social organisation and deep-rooted traditions that get in the way of equal access and progression between the sexes.

ESF-Works carries examples of effective work that has made clear progress in areas including:

  • part-time work
  • women's particular caring responsibilities
  • the gender pay gap and differential performance in the labour market
  • barriers to participation in ESF programmes.

The ESF programme looks to its own performance and is actively seeking to ensure that it remains accessible to all. A recent report by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) for the Skills Funding Agency, looks in detail at ESF’s performance in supporting unemployed women, and includes a wealth of evidence and good practice lessons.