Women have been hit hard by the crisis: they are more likely to work part-time, unemployment has increased and social services have been cut. This year's International Women's Day on 8 March will be dedicated to how they are weathering the economic crisis. Boosting women's participation in the job market will be key to any recovery, but how could the EU help? The EP's women's rights committee approved on 19 February an own-initiative report setting out what measures are needed.
The report points out that women already suffer from lower salaries and employment security compared to men, which makes them more vulnerable to changes in the job market. Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, who wrote the report, told us: "When the economic crisis started, men were hit first, but now women face a silent crisis that makes their situation worse."
Some 32% of women work part-time compared to 8% of men. Women, who traditionally have more responsibility for family issues, have been hit by cuts in welfare.Many are forced to leave work to care for children and older relatives. Single mothers are particularly vulnerable.On top of that, women earn on average 17% less than men.
Ms Morin-Chartier, a French member of the EPP group, said: "Unfortunately, employment for men still seems to take priority over that for women. The crisis has hit women's jobs hard and the effects are likely to be lasting. Before the crisis women were already more likely than men to be unemployed, to be working part-time, have precarious jobs, suffer from low wages or a lack of career progress. Today because of the crisis, it has got even worse for them. How the crisis is affecting women's work is at the heart of equality and employment policies. We should stop the decline of women's position in society."
Improving the situation
The report adopted by the women's rights identifies several measures to help women in the job market. According to the report, the EU should facilitate women's entry in professional life through the European Social Fund and other programmes. Member states should encourage women to start up their own company, companies should open more crèches and gender equality should be integrated in the employment and economic policies of the EU and its member states.