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Procedure : 2012/2035(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0235/2012

Texts tabled :

A7-0235/2012

Debates :

PV 10/09/2012 - 26
CRE 10/09/2012 - 26

Votes :

PV 11/09/2012 - 10.18
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0321

Debates
Monday, 10 September 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

26. Role of women in the green economy (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. - The next item is a short presentation of the report by Mikael Gustafsson on the role of women in the green economy [2012/2035(INI)] (A7-0235/2012).

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson, rapporteur.(SV) Mr President, Commissioner, right from day one and throughout the entire process of producing this report, I had extensive contact with the shadow rapporteurs, the general public, political advisers and non-profit making organisations. I would therefore like to offer my sincere thanks to all those who have been instrumental in giving the report its current form. Your proposals and opinions are now part of the whole, irrespective of whether they were received via amendments, consultation responses, the Facebook page that was set up for this purpose or verbally.

This is a cross-party report in which equality, ecology and the environment come together. It is perhaps always important to have several political perspectives, but it may be particularly important during a time of financial crisis. At a time when there is talk of economic problems and solutions to these problems, the debate often tends to be very technical. It is as if men and women do not exist, despite the fact that the economy essentially revolves around people’s ability to survive on a planet with limited resources.

The current economic systems do not take account of the fact that natural resources are limited. Constant growth is almost viewed as a religion. Sooner or later, however, there will be a collapse, as all goods or services that are produced require further extraction of natural resources, for example, water, energy or metals. This clearly affects ecosystems, which are the basis for our existence and welfare. We therefore really need a green economy based on equality.

A green or sustainable economy is a system in which we preserve the production capacity of ecosystems, the planet’s capacity to sustain us, while at the same time meeting basic human needs. Thus, the economy develops within the bounds of what nature can tolerate and guarantees a fair distribution of resources between all people on the planet – between women and men and between different generations. A green economy is therefore not merely about green technology; it is just as much about social justice. It is a question of a sustainable economy.

In order to create a sustainable future, we need to think beyond the market and its short-term perspective. This means that we need to give people’s prosperity top priority. In order to do that, we need to protect the basic functions of ecosystems, because without ecosystems, there will be no prosperity.

The green economy – the sustainable economy – will primarily be achieved through changes in the wealthy parts of the world. We are the ones who need to establish sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Current economic policy is not merely in the process of sending us down an environmentally dangerous gulley; it is also helping to increase the gaps in society between men and women, between rich and poor, and between north and south.

The quota of men that permeates society today must change completely in a sustainable society. Among other things, we need targeted measures, for quotas, for example.

Transport, consumption, food, welfare and representation are areas that have strong links with a sustainable economy. There needs to be a gender perspective within these areas. The report contains a number of proposals within these areas. These are proposals that could lead to a sustainable economy in which men and women have the same opportunities to determine and affect the development of society, in which the planet’s limits are respected and where there is social justice between all men and women.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). - (SK) Mr President, I would like briefly to summarise the most controversial paragraphs of the report. The report says that the state must convince women to work in the green economy, to sacrifice their families for this, and to forget about intergenerational solidarity and raising their children. At the same time, men must go and study social services. We need more pre-school facilities and hospices and the green economy cannot exist without a liberal abortion policy.

I remember the promotional posters of the communists. On one, there was a woman on a tractor and on another, a woman with a pickaxe in her hand. As if the maternal instinct was a mistake of nature, as if caring for your own children and relatives had no value for society. We want to see only the woman, the man and the child, but never the family. What is the result? Social engineering, meaningless projects funded from our taxes and unsustainable pensions.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D). – Mr President, I welcome this report and commend the rapporteur. I believe that it is of vital importance to include a gender perspective when debating environmental issues. Female workers are very much under-represented in the growing renewable sector in general, and in science and technology in particular. I feel that there is a need for initiatives to encourage women to study and seek employment in these sectors. Such initiatives should promote women’s entrepreneurship in the green economy. Moreover, women should be equally represented in political decision-making bodies and involved in environmental policy making and the transition to the green economy in order to strengthen equality and democracy.

In developing countries, in particular, issues such as access to clean water and dependence on biomass for energy have differing effects on men and women. It is therefore imperative that modern green technologies be made available to developing countries and that these countries have access to the resources necessary to invest in the green economy.

Finally, I would recommend that Member States strengthen and invest in local public transport systems. These investments should be focused on sustainable transport development. They should do so in order to enhance living conditions and promote social inclusion, as well as to bring about positive effects on the environment.

I commend the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D).(SK) Mr President, the green economy can also be labelled the sustainable economy, by which I mean social and environmental sustainability in particular. Social sustainability means a social order based on equality and social justice, regardless of gender, ethnicity, skin colour, religion, sexual orientation, disability or political beliefs.

Due to gender roles, the impact of women on the environment is not the same as the impact of men. In many countries, moreover, women’s access to the resources and possibilities for controlling the situation and adapting are limited, due to structural norms and discrimination. Gender inequality, combined with a lack of sensitivity towards the different economic and social status of women and their needs, often causes women to suffer disproportionately from environmental degradation.

The consequences of climate change also have the greatest impact on the poorest people, of whom women comprise an estimated 70%. Women in the green economy are insufficiently represented in specialist roles and are clearly insufficiently represented in negotiations on the environment and the budget, as well as in decision making in this area.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, I also want to thank the rapporteur, Mr Gustafsson, not only for his drafting, but also for the good cooperation he has shown in the development of the report.

It is a fact that the absence of the gender perspective from environmental policies increases gender inequality. We have seen this in different contexts. Therefore, gender mainstreaming, as is said in the report, is absolutely crucial at the international, national and regional level. This is what we claimed should be in the report.

I also appreciate very much the fact that the report includes two of the amendments we presented. One has to do with the specific situation of women in this time of economic crisis and in the EU 2020 strategy. As we have said in preceding reports, it is a fact that women are suffering much more from the crisis than men in many cases. It is also a fact that the transition to a low carbon economy will create a huge demand for skilled workers, so this is also an opportunity to create jobs and to create new opportunities.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Mr President, climate change and the loss of biodiversity threaten people’s living conditions, social well-being and welfare. I call on Member States to take measures to help women achieve a life/work balance and encourage entrepreneurship in sectors such as renewable energy, agriculture, tourism and the development of green innovations, especially within the service sector. I also call for support and encouragement for women’s access to micro-credit for small businesses.

According to the Commission’s estimates, implementing the energy efficiency plan has the potential to create up to 2 million jobs. I call on Member States to develop training courses through the ERDF and ESF programmes, designed to facilitate access for women to new green jobs and emerging technologies with a low environmental impact.

I support the adoption by Member States of fiscal policies promoting the development of a green economy and encouraging investment in sustainable infrastructures and green innovations.

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR).(CS) Mr President, I originally came because I wanted to talk about the next report, but I feel compelled to respond to some of the previous statements made by Members, although I do hold them in high regard. Yes, I agree that, regardless of whether it applies to women who play a role in the so-called ‘green’ or environmental economy, or anywhere else, there is a need to support gender equality and to support all of the opportunities offered to women by our current modern policy, in the sense that they are able to carry on at the same time as raising a family, and so that these gender stereotypes can be divided up correctly. So that they cease to exist, and so that women can share child care duties with their husbands. This applies in most cases on farms, in other words, agriculture, where families work together.

I cannot agree that children would be affected by this in some way and, on the contrary, I would like to support the ideas that relate to this area. This means that women will continue to have opportunities.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  John Dalli, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, on behalf of the Commission, I wish to thank the European Parliament and Mr Gustafsson, in particular, for the report on the role of women in the green economy. My thanks also go to the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality for their views and contributions to this debate.

Empowering women and preserving their rights is indeed both an intrinsic sustainable development goal and a means to achieve the green economy we aim for. The importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment is essential in key areas, such as food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture, water and sanitation, energy and education.

The discussion of this topic is particularly timely as we now turn to the Rio+20 follow-up. As you know, the issue of gender played an important role there.

Much has been said about the outcome of Rio+20; some have summarised it as less than we hoped but more than we expected. This also applies to gender issues. On the positive side, the EU has achieved references to gender equality and women’s empowerment, which is a step beyond Johannesburg. These elements are now reaffirmed as central to sustainable development and the outcome document when laying down our common vision and our renewed political commitment. We have also achieved a dedicated section on gender equality and the empowerment of women with key political messages on a range of areas.

But I would like to focus on another positive side, which is sometimes overlooked in relation to Rio+20 but has been central to the EU position and to the solutions of Parliament: the mainstreaming of the gender perspective in a range of chapters in the outcome document.

This applies to the need for gender-sensitive indicators and to poverty eradication as well as to the means of implementation, including finance, technology and capacity building.

Rio agreed on the need to empower rural women in order to enhance agricultural and rural development, food security and nutrition. This is part of the importance attached in Rio+20 to help small producers – often women – access credit, markets, land tenure, health care, social services, education, training and technologies.

Introducing the gender perspective in the areas relevant to the green economy will be important for an effective follow-up to Rio+20. The Commission will take this into account when developing its follow-up actions on Rio.

The efforts for the transition to an inclusive green economy are just starting at EU and international level. The call by the European Parliament to ensure mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment is well-founded and it has been reflected in the Rio outcome document.

The Commission is looking forward to further cooperation with Parliament, including the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, on this important challenge.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, 11 September 2012).

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) Mr President, speeding up the transition to a low carbon economy is an environmental imperative. The EU should maintain its goals and propose concrete measures by strengthening support for renewable energy and energy efficiency, promoting less polluting means of transport and offering consumers the possibility of choosing products with a smaller environmental footprint. In this context, it is important to discuss the imbalance between men and women in the political decision-making process, which is related to the lower level of representation of women in the green economy. These factors are interlinked and require a holistic response. Equal participation in policy and the green economy is needed in order to ensure that the interests and different needs of men and women are duly considered. It is well known, for example, that climate change does not affect men and women, rich and poor, developed countries and developing countries to the same extent. As a result, the eradication of inequality and making the green economy more efficient are related. In order to overcome this imbalance, the Member States need to adopt the appropriate measures, including gender quotas. These measures are aimed at ensuring that economic development is based on a fair distribution of resources among individuals, among men and women, and among different generations.

 
  
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  Vladko Todorov Panayotov (ALDE), in writing. – Our countries are currently going through the most severe economic crisis of our experience and some see it as an opportunity for a transition towards a green economy. Indeed, as our resources are becoming more and more scarce and there are doubts about the sustainability of our way of life, the European regulator needs to question and correct one of the ongoing system’s most striking deficiencies: the inequality between women and men on both the economic and environmental level. It appears nowadays that, on the one hand, women pollute less than men for various reasons, such as the fact they eat less meat, they drive less, and they consume less because their salaries are lower and because they have less time for leisure and energy-consuming activities. On the other hand, horizontal segregation contributes to women being as under-represented in qualified jobs as over-represented in unqualified jobs. The fact there are no women candidates for the ECB board is a good illustration of this situation: is there no woman in the EU fitting the requirements to acquire even candidate status for this board? I am glad the EU is underlining these paradoxes, as the measures we are taking today to ensure our economic growth will be decisive in shaping tomorrow’s green and equal society.

 
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