Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Successor programme


Programme funding

EUR 120 million

Official Journal Reference

C 327 of 1990-12-29

Legislative Reference

To help women to take full advantage on equal terms of the positive effects expected from economic growth and technological development, taking into account the specific difficulties which women face in the labour market, especially in the less developed areas, and which are aggravated by the social exclusion that long term unemployment represents for an increasing number of women.


On 18 December 1990, the Commission of the European Communities decided to establish a Community initiative to promote equal opportunities for women (NOW) within the meaning of Article 11 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 4253/88. This initiative forms an integral part of the implementation of the third medium-term programme on equal opportunities (1991 to 1995).

In the context of NOW, Community assistance is made available for specific measures in favour of women which are included in operational programmes and global grants submitted by the Member States and approved by the Commission. Specific actions, of particular value as models, are carried out in a transnational framework which may consist of exchanges of experiences, vocational training programmes, of trainers or trainees at Community level. These vocational training and employment promotion operations are established to face up to the new challenge which the completion of the internal market represents for employment and equal opportunities. These actions aim to give new and added value to and promote women's qualifications as well as to assist in a change in the enterprise culture, to enable them to create their own enterprise or cooperatives and to assist the reinsertion of women into the 'regular' labour market to avoid an aggravation in their exclusion from the labour market, and to prevent insecurity in women's employment. Complementary measures are financed by the Community to reinforce the effectiveness of vocational training and promotion of employment operations at a regional and local level, especially in the less developed areas.


Eligible measures:

- Creation of small businesses and cooperatives by women:
. Vocational training measures geared specifically to the needs of running businesses or cooperatives;
. The creation of enterprises or cooperatives by way of aid for the creation of self-employed activities and recruitment aids;
. Aid for starting-up services aimed at helping women obtain access to existing structures to facilitate the creation of craft activities or small and medium sized enterprises;

- Measures concerning guidance and advice, pretraining, training and access to employment with a view to professional reintegration;

- Complementary measures:
. Development of childcare facilities;
. Technical assistance measures.


The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme.

NOW operational programmes and global grants are the subject of joint financing by the Member States and the Community from the Structural Funds. The amount of the Community's budget contribution takes into account the nature and extent of the problems to be addressed and the quality of the operations. The rates of assistance are decided in conformity with the provisions of the Regulations governing the Structural Funds and take account of the funding capacity of the national and regional authorities concerned.

In assessing the quality of the operations, the Commission considers:
- the Community dimension and the transnational character of the operations;
- the impact of the proposed measures on women's employment;
- their coherence with the Community medium-term programme for equal opportunities;
- their coherence and complementarity with other Community actions;
- their impact on the development of the regional and local economy.
Record Number: 301 / Last updated on: 2014-03-05