• Cristina Elías MéndezEmail author


The traditional legal definition of woman is based on the principle of formal equality of all persons before the law. Progressively, the provisions aimed at the achievement of material equality have been incorporated into the community acquis of the European Union. Rights of non-discrimination in the labour sphere and, in some cases, in the social field, are consolidated and guaranteed through the binding force of the Treaties, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Directives. However, the only incipient progress in the fight against sexual harassment or gender balance in leadership positions within the public and private spheres are mainly reflected in mere soft-law instruments. In specific cases, the EU Court has made important work in favour of the guarantee and effectiveness of the rights that make up the legal status of women in the EU, applying European norms but also having a positive impact on the development and consolidation of women’s rights. The conglomerate of rights that this community acquis has provided to women in the EU is, without a doubt, relevant and has helped to strengthen their legal status. Deficiencies have been detected, however, regarding the effectiveness in the application of these rights. In any case, it is undeniable that the legal position of women in the EU enjoys a leading level of formal and material recognition in the global context and has been a driving force for the improvement of the Member States’ legislation, building an important set of rights on which to move forward.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), Faculty of Law, Department of Constitutional LawMadridSpain

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