COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION of 13 December 1984 on the promotion of positive action for women (84/635/EEC)



Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, and in particular Article 235 thereof,

Having regard to the draft recommendation submitted by the Commission (1),

Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament (2),

Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee (3),

Whereas various action has been undertaken at Community level to promote equal opportunities for women; whereas, in particular the Council adopted, on the basis of Articles 100 and 235 of the Treaty, Directive 75/117/EEC (4), 76/207/EEC (5) and 79/7/EEC (6) concerning equal treatment for men and women; whereas other legal instruments are being prepared;

Whereas Article 2 (4) of Council Directive 76/207/EEC provides that it shall be without prejudice to measures to promote equal opportunities for men and women, in particular by removing existing inequalities which affect women's opportunities in the areas referred to in Article 1 (1) thereof;

Whereas existing legal provisions on equal treatment, which are designed to afford rights to individuals, are inadequate for the elimination of all existing inequalities unless parallel action is taken by governments, both sides of industry and other bodies concerned, to counteract the prejudicial effects on women in employment which arise from social attitudes, behaviour and structures;

Whereas, by its resolution of 12 July 1982 on the promotion of equal opportunities for women (7), the Council approved the general objectives of the new Community action programme on the promotion of equal opportunities for women (1982 to 1985), namely the stepping up of action to ensure observance of the principle of equal treatment and the promotion of equal opportunities in practice by positive action (Part B of the programme), and expressed the will to implement appropriate measures to achieve these objectives;

Whereas, in a period of economic crisis, action taken should be not only continued but also intensified at national level and Community level with a view to promoting the achievement of equal opportunities in practice through the implementation of positive actions, more especially in the fields of equal pay and equal treatment as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion and working conditions;

Whereas the European Parliament has underlined the importance of positive action,


1. To adopt a positive action policy designed to eliminate existing inequalities affecting women in working life and to promote a better balance between the sexes in employment, comprising appropriate general and specific measures, within the framework of national policies and practices, while fully respecting the spheres of competence of the two sides of industry, in order:

(a) to eliminate or counteract the prejudicial effects on women in employment or seeking employment which arise from existing attitudes, behaviour and structures based on the idea of a traditional division of roles in society between men and women;

(b) to encourage the participation of women in various occupations in those sectors of working life where they are at present under-represented, particularly in the sectors of the future, and at higher levels of responsibility in order to achieve better use of all human resources.

2. To establish a framework containing appropriate provisions designed to promote and facilitate the introduction and extension of such measures.

3. To take, continue or promote positive action measures in the public and private sectors.

4. To take steps to ensure that positive action includes as far as possible actions having a bearing on the following aspects:

- informing and increasing the awareness of both the general public and the working world of the need to promote equality of opportunity for working women,

- respect for the dignity of women at the workplace,

- qualitative and quantitative studies and analyses of the position of women on the labour market,

- diversification of vocational choice, and more relevant vocational skills, particularly through appropriate vocational training, including the implementation of supporting measures and suitable teaching methods,

- measures necessary to ensure that placement, guidance and counselling services have sufficient skilled personnel to provide a service based on the necessary expertise in the special problems of unemployed women,

- encouraging women candidates and the recruitment and promotion of women in sectors and professions and at levels where they are underrepresented, particularly as regards positions of responsibility,

- adapting working conditions; adjusting the organization of work and working time,

- encouraging supporting measures such as those designed to foster greater sharing of occupational and social responsibilities,

- active participation by women in decisionmaking bodies, including those representing workers, employers and the self-employed.

5. To ensure that the actions and measures described in points 1 to 4 are made known to the public and to the working world, especially to potential beneficiaries, by all appropriate means and as extensively as possible.

6. To enable national equal opportunities committees and organizations to make a significant contribution to the promotion of such measures, which presupposes that these committees and organizations are provided with appropriate means of action.

7. To encourage both sides of industry, wherever possible, to promote positive action within their own organizations and the work place, for example by suggesting guidelines, principles, codes of good conduct or good practice or any other appropriate formula for the implementation of such action.

8. To make efforts also in the public sector to promote equal opportunities which might serve as an example, particularly in those fields where new information technologies are being used or developed.

9. To make appropriate arrangements to gather information on measures taken by public and private bodies, and to follow up and evaluate such measures,


1. To promote and organize in liaison with the Member States the systematic exchange and assessment of information and experience on positive action within the Community.

2. To submit a report to the Council, within three years of the adoption of this recommendation, on progress achieved in its implementation, on the basis of information supplied to it by Member States.

Done at Brussels, 13 December 1984.

For the Council

The President


(1) OJ No C 143, 30. 5. 1984, p. 3.

(2) OJ No C 315, 26. 11. 1984, p. 81.

(3) Opinion delivered on 12 November 1984 (not yet published in the Official Journal).

(4) OJ No L 45, 19. 2. 1975, p. 19.

(5) OJ No L 39, 14. 2. 1976, p. 40.

(6) OJ No L 6, 10. 1. 1979, p. 24.

(7) OJ No C 186, 21. 7. 1982, p. 3.