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Joint PH FEMM/EMPL - Work-life Balance and Gender Equality (19 March, 15.00 – 17.00)

Together with the EMPL committee, the FEMM committee held a public hearing on "Work-life balance and gender equality" on 19 March. After opening speeches by Ms Regina Bastos and Ms Antigoni Papadopoulou, experts presented their views in two discussion panels of which one addressed work-life balance as a factor of gender equality (Ms Claudia Menne, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, Dr Konstantina Davaki, Research Fellow at LSE and Agnès Parent-Thirion, Senior Programme Manager at Eurofound) whilst a second one discussed the reconciliation of working and non-working life (Prof Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair for Strategy and Organisation of the Technische Universität München and Ms Ana Rubin, Member of the Board of the Swedish Left).
The experts argued that work-life balance should be understood as dynamic and susceptible to change over the life course of women (Dr Konstantina Davaki). An important intervention was the "holistic approach" advocated by the experts (Dr Konstantina Davaki, Ms Agnès Parent-Thirion), as it captures the diversity of women's situation from a political, cultural and economic perspective even though some experts (Ms Agnès Parent-Thirion) regretted that there are very few examples that reflect such an approach. Flexicurity, as explained by the experts (Prof Dr Isabell Welpe) might be one of these approaches, enabling workers to have both flexibility and security. This opinion was shared by other experts ( Ms Claudia Menne), in particular regarding maternal leave where women must be given more flexible work arrangements in order to combine paid work with care work. Another option discussed (Ms Ana Rubin) was a 6-hour working day - considered to be a better alternative to part-time work.
After each panel, Members and other participants from civil society were given opportunity to ask questions, followed by a debate.

Committee responsible for: 
  1. the definition, promotion and protection of women's rights in the Union and related Community measures;
  2. the promotion of women's rights in third countries;
  3. equal opportunities policy, including equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and treatment at work;
  4. the removal of all forms of discrimination based on sex;
  5. the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors;
  6. the follow-up and implementation of international agreements and conventions involving the rights of women;
  7. information policy on women.
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Mikael Gustafsson