Posts tagged Equality
The number of women out of work is rising and predicted to hit a 25-year high, while unemployment among men is falling, creating a “female unfriendly” UK labour market, new research claims today. A report by equality campaigners, the Fawcett Society, warns that UK government economic policies are leaving women behind with almost two out of three new private-sector jobs going to men. Almost three times as many women as men have become long-term unemployed in the past two and a half years – 103,000 women compared with 37,000 men.
The society warns that unless action is taken, the labour market will be characterised by “persistent and rising levels” of women’s unemployment, diminishing pay levels for women, and a widening of the gender pay gap. ….more
Women’s power going even further down?
Over 80 years ago, women got the vote and its about 40 years since the Sex Discrimination Act was passed in the UK. Women, who form the majority of the population, do not appear to have achieved or improved their position particularly as public sector decision makers.
In UK politics and other areas, mostly public sector decision making, about 20 % is done by women.
The rate of UK female members in European Parliament is barely over 30%. In the National
Assembly for Wales 41.7% of the members are women, the area with the highest female
rate. It looks, using this report, which compares figures between 2003 to 2012, little progress,
if any, has been achieved.
The rate of women in the Cabinet has fallen by 6%, making Britain one of the lowest placed locations for achieving equality in the EU.
The minority, men, retain the majority….. more
Progress in gender equality leads to economic growth, says EU report.
Improving equality between women and men is essential to the EU’s response to the current economic crisis, according to the European Commission’s latest annual report on gender equality. The report looks at progress over the past year in tackling the remaining gaps between women and men in employment, the economy and society in general. While some progress has been made in increasing the number of women in top jobs in business and in narrowing the gender pay gap, major challenges remain. EU countries need to get more women into the labour market if they are to meet the EU’s overall objective of 75% employment rate for all adults by 2020. One of the way’s of improving Europe’s competitiveness is to obtain better balance between women and men in economic decision-making positions. Studies have shown that gender diversity pays off and companies with higher percentages of women on corporate boards perform better than those with all-male boards.
“The economic case for getting more women into the workforce and more women into top jobs in the EU is overwhelming,” said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “We can only reach our economic and employment goals by making full use of all our human resources – both in the labour market as a whole and at the top. This is an essential part of our economic recovery plans.”
Today’s report on progress made during 2011 on equality between women and men is part of the Commission’s broader report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in the past year (IP/12/370). It highlights the main developments at both national and European level across the five key areas in the EU’s overall gender equality strategy for 2010-2015, namely: the economy, equal pay, decision-making, gender-based violence and gender equality beyond the EU.
In the labour market, the employment rate for women is 62.1%, compared to 75.1% for men, meaning the EU can only reach the overall Europe 2020 target rate of 75% employment with a strong commitment to gender equality. Under the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission has highlighted the need to promote a better work-life balance, in particular through adequate childcare, more access to flexible working arrangements, and by making sure tax and benefit systems do not penalise second earners (IP/11/685). These can all help to make sure more women enter and remain in the labour market.
The gender pay gap has narrowed slightly across the EU. On average, women earn 16.4% less than men for every hour worked. The gender pay gap is caused by multiple factors such as labour market segregation and differences in educational choices. The second European Equal Pay Day highlighted this issue and the potential solutions (IP/12/211). Slow progress in narrowing the gender gap in company boardrooms led the Commission to launch a public consultation on possible measures at EU level to address the problem, which risks holding back innovation and growth in Europe (IP/12/213).
Finally, the Commission took an important step towards the goal of ending gender-based violence by proposing a package of measures to strengthen the rights of crime victims (IP/11/585). This included a series of measures specifically aimed at helping women who fall victim to domestic violence.
Promoting more equality in decision-making is one of the goals set out in the European Women’s Charter (see IP/10/237), which was initiated by President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Reding in March 2010. The Commission pursued these commitments by adopting a Gender Equality Strategy in September 2010 for the next five years (see IP/10/1149 and MEMO/10/430). The Strategy sets out a series of actions across four further areas in addition to equality in decision-making: equal economic independence; equal pay for work of equal value; dignity, integrity and ending gender-based violence; and gender equality in external policies.
A growing body of evidence points to significant economic benefits stemming from a better gender balance in economic decision-making. Having more women in top jobs can contribute to a more productive and innovative working environment and improved company performance overall. This bolsters competitiveness. Women account for 60% of new university graduates but few make it to the top of companies. Opening the door to senior positions acts as an incentive for women to enter and stay in the workforce, helping to raise female employment rates and making better use of women’s potential as human resources.
For more information: European Commission – DG Justice newsroom:
European Commission – Gender equality:
Video clip – gender pay gap:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Testing: Principle of Gender Equality
The European Court of Justice ruled in the Test Achats case, 1st March 2011. It ruled that from 21 December 2012 insurance premiums and benefits will apply to both general and life insurance.
The 2004 Gender Directive (2004/113/EC) imposed a requirement for unisex insurance premiums and benefits from 21 December 2007. As insurers throughout the EU relied on gender as a determining factor in calculating premiums and benefits, however, the Directive provided for a derogation. The derogation allowed insurers to continue to rely on gender as a determing factor provided that any such differences in premiums and benefits were justified on actuarial and statistical data.
The Directive did not set a limitation period for the derogation, allowing every Member State to review their position on 21 December 2012. The Belgian Constitutional Court asked the ECJ to rule on whether the derogation was inconsistent with the fundamental principle of gender equality.
The ECJ found that the derogation was invalid as it gave rise to a possibility that gender inequality may continue indefinitely. The ECJ set 21 December 2012 as the end date for the derogation.
What this means for Insurers?
Contracts entered into after 21 December 2012 must be gender netural, for premiums paid by consumers and benefits payable to consumers.
Insurers will have to consider the requirement for gender neutrality when costing new business. It is expected the European Commission will amend the Directive to deal with the decision.
Insurers will have to consider how to adapt their business for the 21 December 2012 deadline or an earlier date if national legislation provides this.
The concern is that the ruling will impact negatively on consumers and will ultimately result in higher premiums and lower benefits. This may well be the case as insurers may now be forced to account for the risk that they do not have the balance of male and female customers that they expected to have, with the result that the company’s risk profile is different to what was expected.
EVENT Beekman Tower Hotel Ballroom,New York, 25 February 2011
The Fund for Gender Equality (FGE) invites grantee partners and social justice funders to a convening to explore key questions in gender equality and women’s rights: How do we define gender equality? How are FGE grantees advancing women’s economic & political empowerment in their countries and communities? What strategies and innovative approaches are working best? What has not worked? Why? How can funders best support sustainable impact in the field of gender equality?
Prepared by FEMM in response to the Commission report.on equality.
I. whereas there is a correlation between the rate of female employment and women’s family responsibilities; whereas over 20 million Europeans (two-thirds of whom are women) care for adult dependent persons, which stops them from having a full-time job; whereas this fact could aggravate the effects of population ageing,
J. whereas there is a need to address stereotypes, which often push children into sectors traditionally seen as the preserve of either men or of women, and it is important to promote diversification of career choices,
K. whereas not enough girls go into science, leading to severe gender segregation by sector,
L. whereas there are generally more women then men graduating from universities (58.9% of degrees are awarded to women) but women are under-represented in corporate, administrative and political positions of responsibility,
M. whereas the Network of Women in Decision-making in Politics and the Economy, set up in June 2008, can help improve the gender balance in decision-making positions,
N. whereas greater representation of women at European, national, regional and local level is necessary for effective gender equality in our societies; whereas, in some Member States, the proportion of women in the national parliament is below 15%,
O. whereas women are at greater risk of poverty than men as a result of their truncated careers and lower salaries and pensions; whereas, in the context of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, not enough attention has been paid to the underlying causes of poverty,
P. whereas 2011 will be the European Year of Volunteering, and it is important to stress the potential benefits of promoting the principle of gender equality in volunteer programmes,
Q. whereas minority women, especially Roma women, regularly experience discrimination and are at particular risk of social exclusion,
R. whereas violence against women is a violation of their fundamental rights and an obstacle to equality; whereas 20-25% of women suffer physical violence in the course of their lives; whereas psychological violence is just as devastating as physical violence,
1. Points out that male-dominated sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, were the first to be hit by the crisis but that the crisis has since spread to more gender-mixed sectors, thus leading to greater female unemployment;
2. Calls for the impact of the crisis on women to be quantified by drawing up precise statistics with gender-disaggregated indicators that are regularly updated and reassessed; adds that such statistics should enable a more targeted response to cyclical and structural employment problems with a view to overcoming the crisis and fostering the spread of good practices;
3. Points out that gender inequalities remain despite the increasing participation of women in the labour market; stresses that the economic and financial crisis should be seen as a chance to put forward new and innovative proposals on employment, remuneration, working hours and the filling of positions of responsibility;
4. Points out that the emergence of new sectors with a strong potential for job creation, such as ecology, the environment or new technologies, needs to be taken into consideration when employment policies are being formulated; stresses in this connection that women have an important role to play in these sectors; calls on the Member States to encourage girls to enter these types of sector; encourages the Commission to issue regular communications on these new perspectives;
5. Points out that organisations active in the social economy (foundations, mutual associations and cooperatives) can play a key role in the economic recovery and that their employees are chiefly women; calls on the Member States to consider such organisations seriously when drawing up economic recovery policies;
6. Stresses that eliminating the pay gap is a priority, and therefore deplores the fact that the Commission did not do enough to relaunch this debate at European level, particularly by revising the existing legislation applying the principle of equal pay for men and women, as Parliament had requested in its resolution of 18 November 2009;
7. Calls on the Council and Commission to improve observance of the principle of gender equality in its Europe 2020 strategy and ensure that it is applied effectively in the various parts of the strategy;
8. Calls, in view of the continuing pay gap between men and women, for a Europe-wide debate to combat stereotypes linked to the respective roles of men and women;
9. Asks for concrete proposals with a view to achieving a better work-life balance, particularly with regard to help with care for dependent persons and child care;
10. Asks the Commission to ensure that the various European rules on work-life balance are correctly transposed by the Member States;
11. Calls on the Member States to set up and/or improve childcare facilities such as crèches and nurseries with a view to providing good-quality, affordable child care services to as many people as possible; believes that these facilities offer considerable support to parents and should make it easier for them to enter the workforce;
12. Stresses that education plays a key role in inculcating in children the notion of gender equality as early as possible; calls on the Member States to establish information and awareness-raising programmes on the values of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, particularly Article 23 thereof, for pupils throughout their school career;
13. Stresses the need for young people to be free to make their own career choices; points out, therefore, that teachers should not automatically guide pupils towards specific sectors for purposes of conforming to sexist stereotypes;
14. Calls on the Member States to take measures to ensure that girls are not pushed automatically into traditionally feminised sectors and careers;
15. Welcomes efforts made at European level to increase women’s representation in politics; advocates, therefore, greater participation for women in all European institutions, particularly in positions of responsibility; stresses, however, that further efforts must be made at national, regional and municipal level;
16. Points out that only 3% of major companies are chaired by a woman; calls on the Member States to take effective measures to ensure greater representation for women in major listed companies and on the management boards of companies in general;
17. Calls on the Member States to identify companies which promote gender equality and a good work-life balance and to spread good practices extensively, in particular via chambers of commerce;
18. Encourages the regular exchange of information and experiences between stakeholders promoting gender equality, with a view to implementing good practices throughout society: at European, national, regional and local level and in both the private and public sectors;
19. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to pay particular attention to vulnerable groups of women – disabled, elderly, immigrant or minority women being specific groups in need of measures tailored to their circumstances; calls on the Commission to broaden the scope of the European Year of Volunteering in 2011 to include promotion of gender equality;
20. Points out that women with disabilities are often discriminated against in social, cultural, political and professional life; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make concrete proposals with a view to improving their situation;
21. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay particular attention to Roma women in the implementation of the EU strategy on Roma inclusion;
22. Advocates access for women and men to information on reproductive health and women’s right to avail themselves of services in this area;
23. Points out that violence against women is a major hindrance to gender equality; calls on the Commission to start drawing up a proposal for a comprehensive directive on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women – whether physical, sexual or psychological – including trafficking;
24. Welcomes efforts made at EU and national level to combat violence against women but stresses that this remains a serious, unresolved problem; welcomes the resumption of debate on this form of violence, notably via the establishment of a European protection order; calls on present and future EU presidencies to make further progress;
25. Calls on the Member States to provide better training for staff in the health sector, social services, the police and judiciary and to set up structures capable of dealing with all forms of violence against women, including rare forms of serious violence such as acid attacks;
26. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments of the Member States.
The current economic, financial and social crisis is having disastrous repercussions for employment, living conditions and our societies at large. Women have been severely affected by the crisis, particularly in terms of their working conditions, their access to employment, their place in society as a whole and gender equality. The Commission rightly listed, in its 2010 annual report, the remaining challenges we have to address regarding gender equality as we emerge from the crisis.
Your rapporteur stresses the need for a targeted response addressing the real effects of the crisis on women, which concerned, first and foremost, female employment. As a whole, women’s employment was affected later than men’s because women make up the majority of the workforce in sectors that were initially more resistant to the crisis (health, education, social welfare, etc.). The effects on these sectors, however, could well prove longer lasting, thus making women’s employment less secure than men’s. Women have therefore been hard hit in terms of their working or recruitment conditions and access to employment and could see their circumstances get worse if specific measures are not implemented quickly. Indeed, women remain relegated to part-time work on fixed-term contracts with often insufficient pay and are, for the most part, at a disadvantage on the labour market. Gender equality in employment needs to become an established reality, rather then merely a trend. It is therefore important that the governments of the Member States and the Commission continue to implement gender equality policies and refrain from reducing the budgets earmarked for them.
However, the crisis should not been seen from a wholly negative perspective. It should be seen as a chance for governments to ask the right questions and look at their policies in a new light. The crisis must be the catalyst for us to reconsider the respective roles of men and women in our societies, a process that would entail, among other things, fully incorporating gender equality into all policies. This ideal of equality should be achieved by means of concrete, lasting measures notably concerning education. Children must be familiarised with the principle of gender equality from a very early age so as to banish sexist stereotypes. Whether in the form of ongoing information programmes, awareness-raising campaigns or guiding boys and girls away from sectors traditionally reserved either for men or for women, education and training for young people is the key to equality.
Your rapporteur would also like to stress the importance of the role of women in decision-making positions, which are traditionally the preserve of men. Whether on the boards of publicly listed companies or in the world of politics, women must be able to attain posts in line with their skills. Although often better qualified than men, women are sometimes denied access to positions of responsibility, leading to a mismatch between their levels of training and their status.
There is also a need to strengthen the gender dimension in the fight against poverty. As 2010 is the European Year for Combating Poverty, particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable groups of women. Specific measures should be taken to stop women vulnerable on account of a disability or their status as immigrants or minorities falling into precarious situations, and to facilitate their integration into society. Your rapporteur therefore advises the
Commission that a significant part of the EU strategy on Roma inclusion should concern the integration of Roma women.
The promotion of equality also involves combating violence against women. All forms of physical, sexual or psychological violence, however serious, must be combated and condemned. Combating gender-based violence entails launching awareness-raising campaigns and teaching children and young people about the horrors of this violence. Condemning gender-based violence entails defining it in the eyes of the law and ensuring that the punishment fits the crime. For example, acid attacks are a form of violence that is still regrettably prevalent in certain Member States. Taboos continue to be associated with certain forms of violence in our societies. Information on these forms of violence is scarce and there is, therefore, little awareness of their psychological or physical consequences which are, however, considerable.
EVENT Faculty of Law, University College Cork, 10 September 2010
On 10 September 2010 the Faculty of Law, University College Cork will host a major, one-day international conference on gender equality, multiculturalism and citizenship in contemporary Europe. The conference–part of an IRCHSS-funded programme on Gender Equality, Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Ireland, led by Dr Siobhan Mullally–will feature internationally renowned speakers whose details are below the jump, including two HRinI bloggers: Máiréad Enright and Eoin Daly.
EU countries are launching initiatives involving different stakeholders to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equality in the workplace.
Gender stereotypes generate assumptions about the different occupations or sectors in which men and women work. For example, in a supermarket, it’s often presumed that the cashiers will be predominately female and storeroom workers male. These assumptions can have a negative impact, as they restrict the range of options that women and men have open to them when looking for a job or planning a career.
Often traditions and stereotypes affect the careers of women and men through influencing their choice of educational paths. For example, mathematics, science and technology are perceived as ‘boys’ subjects’, which results in fewer female pupils taking these subjects at school. This leads to fewer female graduates and fewer women working in these fields, despite the fact that more than half of all new university graduates in the EU are women.
In this way, gender stereotypes both lead to and reinforce existing segregation in the labour market with women continuing to work in jobs and sectors which are often lower valued and lower paid than those where men are the majority.
However, things are changing with initiatives taking place across the EU. To learn more, some examples at national level are now available….more
This will be organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union marking 10 years of legislation fighting discrimination as well as promoting the benefits of diversity in the workplace.
The Summit will bring together approximately 500 high-level delegates representing EU Member States, candidate and EEA countries, EU-level NGO networks and social partners, business sector, academia and international organisations.
It will be opened by Joëlle Milquet, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities in Belgium and Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.
The Summit aims to promote equal rights and equal opportunities for all and enables participants to share their knowledge and exchange experiences in order to develop more effective ways of counteracting all forms of discrimination in the workplace. Participation is by invitation only.
Further details: – see Belgian presidency website
Other information: – on LGBT and education, see: Equal rights website