[Brussels, 9 April] As the informal EPSCO Council meets in today and tomorrow in Bucharest, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the priority given to women’s economic independence, boosting women’s labour market participation and addressing the gender pay gap to ensure better work-life balance. “The time has come for real systemic change and the forthcoming European elections is the moment for this”, stated Ms Gwendoline Lefebvre, EWL President. “Our campaign manifesto 50/50 Women for Europe/Europe for Women, sets out an agenda that does just that.” she said, adding “We need a fully-fledged European political strategy on equality between women and men, and the priorities of the informal EPSCO meeting can set this in motion.”
Welcoming the recent adoption by the Council on the Work-Life-Balance Directive, which is a step in the right direction, we must not forget that gender equality has not been achieved in any EU Member State.
Nonetheless, the EWL highlights that women’s position on the labour-market continues to be characterised by low pay, poor working conditions and the fact that women shoulder the bulk of unpaid care responsibilities. These trends withhold women (51 % of EU’s population) from participating in and making their full contribution to society. The needs for care services are not being met and the potential to create quality jobs is missed. We call for greater investments in the care economy, a ‘care guarantee’ to address care needs throughout the life-cycle. Stringent European targets on care are needed as well as strong measures to speed up the implementation of the 2002 so-called Barcelona childcare targets.
Women’s employment rate remains lower than men’s, the gender pay gap has been persistent for decades, resulting in a staggering gender pension gap of almost 40% on average in the EU. “This is intolerable and has to be addressed.” stated Ms Ana Sofia Fernandes, EWL Vice-President. “Our manifesto calls for a robust political strategy on equality between women and men covering the span of the European political mandate 2019-2024, reflecting the EU’s obligation to ensure equality between women and men. We also call for macro-economic framework, post 2020 that puts gender equality at the heart of economic and social development, and this includes gender budgeting and specific funds for women’s rights in the MFF to restore the imbalances,” she said.
The Informal EPSCO meeting provides the opportunity to address these to ensure that all women are guaranteed their full and equal economic independence.