Procedure : 2013/2156(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0073/2014

Texts tabled :

A7-0073/2014

Debates :

PV 10/03/2014 - 12
CRE 10/03/2014 - 12

Votes :

PV 11/03/2014 - 9.23
CRE 11/03/2014 - 9.23

Texts adopted :


REPORT     
PDF 280kWORD 156k
31 January 2014
PE 522.972v02-00 A7-0073/2014

on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2012

(2013/2156(INI))

Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Rapporteur: Inês Cristina Zuber

AMENDMENTS
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on equality between women and men in the European Union - 2012

(2013/2156(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 18 December 1979,

–   having regard to the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others,

–   having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing+5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005) and Beijing +15 (2010) special sessions,

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Regulation 606/2013 of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters(1),

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2012/29/EU of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA(2),

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2011/99/EU of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order(3),

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(4),

–   having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

–   having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011(5),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2010 entitled ‘A Strengthened Commitment to Equality between Women and Men: A Women’s Charter’ (COM(2010)0078),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–   having regard to the Commission communication ‘EU 2020: a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 16 September 2013 entitled ‘Mid-term review of the Strategy for equality between women and men (2010-2015)’ (SWD(2013)0339),

–   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 8 May 2013 entitled ‘Report on the progress on equality between women and men in 2012’ (SWD(2013)0171),

–   having regard to the report of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) entitled ‘Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States: Violence against Women – Victim Support’, published in 2012,

–   having regard to the existence since 1975 of European directives on the different aspects of equal treatment for men and women (Directive 2010/41/EU, Directive 2010/18/EU, Directive 2006/54/EU, Directive 2004/113/EC, Directive 92/85/EEC, Directive 86/613/EEC and Directive 79/7/EEC),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(6);

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on the impact of the economic crisis on gender equality and women’s rights(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on educational and occupational mobility of women in the EU(8),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(9),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on the 57th session on UN CSW: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls(10);

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on women’s working conditions in the service sector(11),

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(12);

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009(13) , of 8 February 2011 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2010(14) and of 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011(15),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2011 on women and business leadership(16),

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women(17),

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the face of female poverty in the European Union(18)

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis(19),

–   having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2009 on non-discrimination based on sex and inter-generational solidarity(20),

–    having regard to its resolution of 13 October 2005 on women and poverty in the European Union(21),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0073/2014),

A. whereas equality between women and men is a fundamental right enshrined in the Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights; whereas the objectives of the European Union in this field are to ensure equal opportunities and treatment for men and women and, in addition, to combat all discrimination based on sex; whereas although the Union has set itself the specific task of mainstreaming gender equality in all its activities , many inequalities between men and women still remain;

B. whereas despite the progress made in this field many inequalities still exist between men and women, whether in terms of women's rights as human rights, career, employment and pay prospects, access to education and health services, or participation in the economy, decision-making or political representation;

C. whereas the economic crisis has led to a decline in the standard of living of many EU citizens; whereas the unemployment rate for women in the EU27 stood at 10.8 % in the last quarter of 2012(22); whereas inclusive growth will require more strategic public investment and it is necessary to improve female labour participation in order to ensure sustained, long-term growth;

D. whereas Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited;

E.  whereas the European directives on equal treatment for men and women adopted since 1975 have made a considerable contribution towards effectively promoting gender equality; whereas it is regrettable that some of the old Member States either do not yet apply these Directives correctly, or do not exercise sufficient control over the implementing legislation introduced; whereas, for various reasons, the new Member States of eastern Europe have not yet fully implemented this important part of the acquis communautaire;

F.  whereas, despite the fact that some Member States have taken steps, sometimes in the form of legislation, to promote changes in the interests of equality between men and women, these changes are over-slow and insufficient;

G. whereas youth unemployment rates have reached unprecedented levels, averaging 23.1 % throughout the EU, and long-term unemployment has risen in most Member States, reaching its highest level ever in the EU as a whole;

H.  whereas there are many disparities between Member States as regards male-female segmentation on the labour market; whereas segmentation is highest in the countries where women work more;

I.    whereas the net destruction of jobs has coincided with an increase in precarious employment, in the form of low-paid part-time jobs and short-term contracts;

J.   whereas poverty has increased in the EU since 2007 and household income has dropped, with 24.2 % of the EU’s population now at risk of poverty or exclusion and 26 % of women being considered at risk of poverty in the EU 27, as against 23.9 % of men(23) ; whereas children, who are often looked after by women, are particularly affected and women face a greater risk of poverty than men; whereas self-employed, out-of-work or unemployed, elderly and disabled women, women from ethnic minorities, immigrant women and women with little or no education, single-person households and single parents form a particularly vulnerable group at risk of poverty; whereas on average 3 in 10 households in the EU are single-person households, the majority of them comprising women living alone, particularly elderly women, and the percentage is rising; whereas single-person or single-income households in most Member States are treated unfavourably, in both absolute and relative terms, with regard to taxation, social security, housing, healthcare, insurance and pensions;

K. whereas the EU is currently facing the most significant economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s; whereas unemployment rates in all Member States, and especially the southern Member States, have risen significantly as a result of this crisis; whereas the fiscal consolidation policies undertaken by Member States, which frequently involve personnel cuts and the freezing of wages, mainly affect the public sector, which is female-dominated; whereas none of these policies take gender aspects adequately into account;

L.  whereas fiscal consolidation has to be compatible with the employment and social dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy, especially on matters relating to gender equality and non-discrimination;

M.  whereas gender equality is a key economic asset for promoting fair and inclusive economic growth; whereas reducing occupational inequality is a goal in terms not just of equal treatment, but also of labour market efficiency and fluidity;

N. whereas in 2012, according to Eurostat, the overall employment rate for women in Europe aged between 20 and 64 was 62.4 %, compared to 74.6 % for men.

O. whereas the employment rate is a major indicator for measuring inequality between men and women; whereas the quality and conditions of employment are just as important as parameters for measuring this inequality;

P.  whereas the female employment rate is underestimated given the fact that many women are not registered as unemployed, particularly those who live in rural or remote areas; whereas this situation creates a disparity in terms of access to public services (benefits, pensions, maternity leave, sick leave, access to social security, etc);

Q. whereas women work more often than men on the basis of part-time, fixed-term or temporary contracts; whereas part-time work formed almost one third of total employment for women in 2012 (32.1% as against 8.4% for men; whereas involuntary part-time work increased to 24 % of overall female part-time employment in 2012 (as against 20% in 2007)(24); whereas women are particularly affected by precarious employment, with a high proportion employed on involuntary part-time, fixed-term or temporary contracts; whereas these contracts offer less protection against dismissal or other forms of termination of contract; whereas they penalise women, inter alia as regards their career development opportunities, their training opportunities or their pension rights, but do, in some situations, present an opportunity to help men and women who decide to reconcile their work and private lives; whereas women consequently earn lower wages, risk lower social protection and find it more difficult to achieve financial independence; whereas women represent a large proportion of those engaged in undeclared work;

R.  whereas the Commission should do more to ensure the implementation of the EU directives in the field, notably by the social partners, who negotiate collective agreements and are too often unaware of Community requirements regarding the equal treatment of women and men with respect to pay, access to employment and career advancement and social security;

S.  whereas the current crisis has had a particular impact on young people, with the unemployment rate for under-25s standing at 22 % in September 2012(25); whereas girls are under-represented in learning processes aimed at facilitating the transition from school to work; whereas the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) reached an average of 22.4 % in the south and periphery, compared with 11.4 % in the north and centre; whereas young women more often start their professional lives in temporary part-time jobs, which reduces the duration of gainful employment; whereas the wage gap between women and men affects the level of pensions, resulting in a higher risk of poverty for women than for men;

T.  whereas the crisis has a harsh impact on vulnerable people and women, who feel the impact both directly – through loss of employment, wage, pension and benefit cuts, and loss of job security – and indirectly through budget cuts in public services and social care;

U. whereas the sharing of family and domestic duties between men and women, particularly by developing the use of parental leave and paternity leave, is a precondition for promoting and achieving gender equality;

V. whereas the income of women doing the same work and with the same skills is still lower than that of men; whereas wage inequality is around at 16.2 % on average in the EU, with considerable variations among Member States that can range from a 10 % wage gap to a disparity of over 20 % in some Member States; whereas lower wages for women lead inevitably to lower pension contributions, and therefore, translate into lower pensions; whereas the gender pay gap, and consequently the gender pension gap, are still among the main reasons for which women find themselves below the poverty line at a later stage in their lives;

W. whereas unemployment rates in the south and on the periphery of the eurozone reached an average of 17.3 % in 2012, compared with 7.1 % in its north and centre(26);

X. whereas women entering working life are playing a leading role in the return to growth; whereas they make it possible for family income to increase, which leads to increases in consumption, social security contributions and tax revenues, as well as revitalising the economy; whereas gender equality therefore has a positive impact on economic growth and on improving the standard of living;

Y. whereas the increasing risk of poverty is closely and directly linked to the destruction of significant social functions performed by the state, as seen, for example, with the recent destruction of public social security systems in a number of Member States, along with cuts in key social benefits (family allowances, unemployment and sickness benefits, and income support) which affect many women, particularly those with dependent families who have sole responsibility for household management;

Z.  whereas in 2011 78 % of women said that they carried out ‘domestic work’ every day (as did 39 % of men(27)), and whereas voluntary flexible working hours are a key element for achieving a better work-life balance; whereas in Europe the employment rate in 2010 for women with dependent children was 64.7 %, as opposed to 89.7 % for men with dependent children; whereas few men take parental leave;

Aa.  whereas the search is still on for an appropriate solution to combine work, family and private life and as a result many women, who in most cases are responsible for looking after children and dependent family members, have little choice other than to accept part-time jobs, and even have to leave the labour market, because of a lack of available, affordable and sufficient childcare and care for the disabled and elderly or effective measures to facilitate a better work-life balance; whereas, according to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions(28), over six million women in Europe say that they cannot work full-time because of their family responsibilities; whereas this role of caregiver is often a barrier to employment and professional career prospects for women ;

Ab.     whereas various economists and demographers (World Bank, OECD, IMF) use economic and mathematical models to highlight the economic value of household production (carried out mainly by women), and whereas women’s contribution to GDP would be even higher if their unpaid work were factored in, which illustrates the discrimination that exists against women’s work;

Ac. whereas cultural tradition, work organisation and daily practices are still of course the reasons why responsibility for care is largely a female issue; whereas European women aged between 25 and 45 devote 162 minutes more than men to domestic work and whereas this social contribution of unpaid domestic work is still not measured for the purposes of GDP; whereas this contribution has been essential for maintaining the welfare state and the European social model;

Ad. whereas in 2012 the Council and Parliament discussed the Commission’s proposal for the 2014-2020 multiannual framework (COM(2011)0398), and Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality adopted an opinion which referred, among other issues, to ‘the need for increased funding for gender equality actions, in terms of employment and growth in order to tackle horizontal and vertical gender segregation and to combat the gender pay gap and pension pay gap and the increasing poverty rate among women, as well as in terms of rights and democracy’, and called on the Commission and Council to ‘establish gender equality as a specific objective in the Rights and Citizenship programme, as well as safeguarding the Daphne programme as an independent subheading in this same programme’(29);

Ae. whereas there has been little progress over the past decade regarding correcting the gender balance in political decision-making, with the EU average improving by just 4 percentage points, from 22 % in 2003 to 26 % in 2012(30); whereas there are still not many women in management posts in businesses or universities and the numbers of female politicians and researchers are rising only very slowly;

Af. whereas in 2012 three out of four members of national parliaments were men and those Member States with over 30 % of seats in their national parliaments occupied by women were Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and Germany, with women having less than 10 % representation in Malta and Hungary;

Ag. whereas in 2012, local and regional assemblies in the EU included an average of 32 % women members and 27 % of members of national governments were women, a 3 % increase since 2003, which shows minimal change, with major variations between Member States (for example, the figures for women in national governments show 49 % in France and 6 % in Greece)(31);

Ah. whereas the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women states that women shall be guaranteed, on equal terms with men, the right to vote and be elected to publicly elected bodies, to participate in the formulation of government policy and perform all public functions at all levels of government, and to participate in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country;

Ai. whereas the Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015 notes that although women make up almost half the EU’s workforce and over half of university graduates, they are still under-represented in decision-making processes and positions, and that according to the most recent available data (2010), although 46 % of all PhD holders in the EU27 are women, only 15.5 % of higher education establishments are headed by women and only 10 % of universities have a female rector(32).

Aj. whereas in many sectors, including those in which women predominate, there is still a glass ceiling that prevents women from reaching higher positions, especially top management positions; whereas this discrimination takes the form, inter alia, of underestimation of their skills and their work, and the unequal division of resulting professional responsibilities;

Ak.     whereas the under-represented gender on the boards of large listed companies in the EU, (generally women), must have a minimum of 40 % representation by 1 January 2020; whereas, according to the Commission, women accounted for only 16.6 % of the members of such boards in April 2013 and 11.8 % in October 2010;

Al. whereas the 2012 report on the implementation of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development 2010-2015 was published in November 2012;

Am.     whereas a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed in April 2012 between UN Women and the EU, with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the two institutions to promote women's empowerment and gender equality throughout the world and reaffirming the partnership between the two organisations and their commitment to promote and support capacity development for the inclusion of gender mainstreaming in all policies and programmes and to ensure that national plans and budgets are adequate for implementing gender equality commitments; whereas its priorities include ensuring better representation of women in economic, political and judicial decision-making, providing greater professional and social prospects for women, and combating sexual and gender-based violence;(33)

An. whereas violence against women whether physical, sexual or psychological, is a prime obstacle to equality between women and men, is a violation of the fundamental rights of women and remains the most widespread violation of human rights despite measures taken to counter it; whereas such violence knows no geographic, economic, social or cultural borders; whereas studies on gender-based violence estimate that one-fifth to one-quarter of all women in Europe have experienced physical acts of violence at least once during their adult lives, more than one-tenth have suffered sexual violence involving the use of force, 12 to 15 % of women in Europe are victims of domestic violence, and seven women die every day in the European Union from it(34); whereas trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation, in which the vast majority of victims are women and girls, is an unacceptable violation of human rights and is a modern form of slavery; whereas economic recession also spawns increased violence in close relationships, and austerity measures affecting support services leave women who are victims of violence even more vulnerable than usual;

Ao.     whereas traditional gender roles and stereotypes depicting women continue to have a strong influence on the division of tasks between women and men in the home, in the workplace and in society at large; whereas gender stereotypes also tend to perpetuate the status quo of inherited obstacles to achieving gender equality, and to limit women’s range of employment choices and personal development, and could partly explain sectoral and occupational segregation between women and men; whereas a major role can be played by the media not just in disseminating stereotypes, thereby even portraying a demeaning image of women, and hypersexualising young girls, but also in overcoming gender stereotypes, promoting women’s participation in decision-making and gender equality;

Ap.     whereas a diversity of family structures exists in the various EU countries, including civil partnership or marriage between persons of the same or different sexes, families where the parents are married or unmarried and of the same or different sexes, single parents, foster parents and families with children from previous relationships, all of which deserve equal protection under national and EU law;

Aq.     whereas the right to health, and particularly sexual and reproductive health and rights, are human rights that should be guaranteed for all women regardless of their social status, age, sexual orientation, origin, legal status or ethnicity;

Ar. whereas women in rural areas suffer more from multiple discrimination and gender stereotypes than women in urban areas, and the employment rate of women in rural areas is much lower than that of those in cities; whereas, in addition, many women are never active in the official labour market and, therefore, are neither registered as unemployed nor included in unemployment statistics, which leads to particular financial and legal problems in relation to the right to maternity and sick leave, the acquisition of pension rights and access to social security, as well as problems in the event of divorce;

As. whereas the collection of statistical data on inequality between the sexes is a priority for combating the causes of gender equality not being achieved in the EU;

At. whereas positive actions aimed at women have proved to be fundamental for their full incorporation in the labour market, in decision-making and in society in general;

Economic independence and wage equality

1. Stresses the fact that the crisis affects women differently and points out that working conditions for women have become considerably more insecure, especially with the increasing prevalence of atypical forms of contract, and that women’s incomes have fallen significantly thanks to a number of factors, including the persistent wage gap between men and women and the resultant inequality in their respective levels of unemployment benefit and pensions, the rise in compulsory part-time working, and the rise in the number of temporary or fixed-term jobs to the detriment of more stable employment; is concerned that budget cuts will exacerbate the problem, as women will be disproportionately affected; calls on Member States’ governments as well as on the social partners to draw up an action plan and concrete, ambitious targets, and to assess the gender impact of the economic and financial crisis through gender equality impact assessments;

2.  Points out that the experience of previous crises shows that the male employment rate generally recovers more quickly than that for women;

3.  Stresses that whilst there has been a trend towards a reduction in gender inequalities on the labour market following the crisis in terms of the gaps in employment and unemployment rates, this reduction is not the result of Europe suddenly making progress towards greater parity, but rather the consequence of a rapid fall in male employment, which has been more affected by the crisis; calls on the Member States to maintain their efforts to achieve better representation of women in decision-making processes, to improve the work-life balance, and to continue to combat violence against women;

4. Emphasises that flexible working hours should be the worker’s decision, and should not be imposed or enforced by the employer; rejects situations of flexibility and contractual uncertainty that do not provide for family formation and stability;

5.  Calls on Member States to invest in affordable, high-quality facilities for the care of children, the sick, the disabled, the elderly and other dependent persons, making sure that they have flexible opening times compatible with full-time working days and are accessible so that as many people as possible can combine professional with family and private life; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that men and women caring for children or other dependents receive recognition through dependency allowances and by giving them individual social security and pension rights; invites the social partners to present specific initiatives to validate the skills acquired during a care-related leave period;

6.  Calls on the Commission to pay more attention to ensuring that the EU directives on the equal treatment of women and men are properly applied by all Member States;

7.  Calls on the Council to break the deadlock on the adoption of the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/85/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding;

8.  Expects the Commission to take all measures at its disposal to enforce all aspects of the EU directives on equal treatment for men and women, including by the social partners who negotiate collective agreements, and to encourage dialogue with social partners to look into issues such as transparency of payment, part-time and fixed-term contract conditions for women, also encouraging women's participation in ‘green’ and innovative sectors; stresses the role of collective negotiation in combating discrimination against women, especially regarding access to employment, payment, conditions of work, career development and training, and in promoting equality;

9.  Encourages Member States to promote measures and actions to assist and advise women who decide to become entrepreneurs;

10. Urges the Member States to include a gender perspective in the cohesion policy for 2014-2020 in order to meet the objectives set by the Europe 2020 strategy; calls, in particular, for a commitment by the EU to ensure equality between women and men and its mainstreaming in all EU and Member State policies; notes that some measures above all require the mobilisation of genuine political will, which has so far been lacking in creating sustainable, inclusive, fair and equal conditions for men and women;

11. Notes that equal participation by men and women in the labour market could significantly increase the economic potential of the EU, while confirming its fair and inclusive nature; points out that, according to OECD projections, total convergence in participation rates would result in a 12.4% increase in per capita GDP by 2030;

12. Points out that in December 2012 the Commission recognised that youth policies (the Youth Employment Package and the Youth Guarantee) need to be pursued in accordance with a gender mainstreaming approach; urges the Commission to give greater encouragement to Member States to adopt measures ensuring that the education and vocational training prospects for girls are the same as those for boys;

13. Notes that the average gap between men’s and women’s pensions is 39 %, whereas the gender pay gap is estimated to stand at 16 %; notes that the amounts of pension that women receive are, in general, affected by a number of factors including the types of precarious employment that they are forced to accept and career breaks;

14. Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the fundamental principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ is observed for women and men alike, and calls on the Member States to maintain public labour inspections in accordance with national legislation to identify the existence of low-paid forms of work where the workforce is mainly female and which create situations of indirect wage discrimination; points out that according to the European Added Value Assessment conclusions, a one percentage point decrease in the gender pay gap will increase economic growth by 0.1 %, which means that closing that gap is of crucial importance in the current economic downturn; requests the Commission to support Member States in reducing the gender pay gap, implementing policies to close it, and exchanging and promoting best practices;

15. Reiterates that Directive 2006/54/EC, in its current form, is not sufficiently effective to tackle the gender pay gap and achieve the objective of gender equality in employment and occupation; urges the Commission to revise Directive 2006/54/EC without delay and to propose amendments to it in accordance with Article 32 of the Directive and on the basis of Article 157 TFEU, following the detailed recommendations set out in the annex to Parliament’s resolution of 24 May 2012;

16. Calls on the Member States to reward with a distinctive symbol those enterprises which obtain corporate equality status as a result of good practices.

17. Calls on the Member States to do their utmost to narrow the gender pay gap; urges the Commission and Council to make girls more interested in growth sectors in which women are under-represented, to help them enter such sectors and provide them with continuing education opportunities throughout their working lives, and to promote complete pay equity at every level;

18. Calls on the Member States to guarantee decent wages and pensions, reduce the gender pay and pension gap, create more high-quality jobs for women, as well as to enable women to benefit from public services of a high standard and improve welfare provisions;

19. Calls for further equal pay information campaigns in order to foster growing awareness of the fact that, from the point of view of fairness and rights, it is vital to aspire to equal treatment of women and men;

20. Calls on the Member States to introduce gender budgeting with the intention not only of analysing programmes that are specifically targeted at women, but also of examining all government programmes and policies, their effects on resource allocation and their contribution to equality between women and men;

21. Calls on the Commission to give continuing encouragement to initiatives aimed at promoting equal pay for women and men, not least by offering tangible support to companies as they seek to achieve parity in the workplace;

22. Notes that women in general have careers without significant progression; calls on the Member States to encourage and support women to have successful careers, including through positive actions such as networking and mentoring programmes, as well as creating adequate conditions and ensuring equal opportunities with men at all ages for training, advancement, reskilling and retraining, as well as pension rights and unemployment benefits that are equal to those applicable to men;

23. Points out that since women tend to a greater extent to be employed in precarious jobs, they are less likely to find other work if they lose their job;

24. Calls on the Member States to combat all aspects of precarious employment, in line with the principle that permanent posts should be accompanied by proper contracts, and to adopt active employment policies to increase the level and quality of jobs and promote net job creation; calls on the Member States to ensure public social security rights and the right to training for workers with atypical contracts; calls on the Member States to increase the participation of women in the labour market, as well as to fight gender segregation in the labour market. as the future economic prosperity of the EU depends crucially on its ability to fully utilise its labour resources;

25. Stresses the need to enhance the responsibility of governments and employers in relation to generational renewal and maternity and paternity rights, which means that women must have the right to be both mothers and workers without forfeiting labour rights;

26. Stresses the fact that women constitute 52 % of the total European population, but only one-third of the self-employed or of all business starters in the EU; emphasises that women face more difficulties than men in access to finance, training, networking, and in maintaining a work-life balance; calls on the Commission and the Member States, accordingly, to encourage female entrepreneurship and promote utilisation of the potential of half of Europe’s population so as to ensure sustained, long-term growth(35);

27. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to gauge the impact of the new pension systems on the different categories of women, focusing in particular on part-time and atypical contracts, and to adjust social welfare systems, especially where the younger generations are concerned;

28. Urges the Member States and the Commission, using information and awareness campaigns, for example, to encourage women to participate in fields of activity that stereotypes term ‘masculine’, not least sciences and new technologies, the object being to make the most of the human capital represented by European women and hence enable the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and gender equality to be achieved to more fruitful effect;

29. Takes the view that helping women return to the labour market requires multidimensional policy solutions incorporating lifelong learning and action to combat precarious work and promote work with rights and differentiated work organisation practices, at the woman’s request, so that they do not have to give up their careers or take career breaks;

30. Stresses the need for urgent action to improve the situation of young women and of women employed in insecure conditions, especially migrant women and members of ethnic minorities, who are even more vulnerable at a time of economic and social crisis; insists on the need for further action to reduce gender inequalities in public health systems and that equal access to those systems must prevail;

31. Is concerned about the legislation in some Member States which does not expressly prohibit the handing of pre-signed resignation letters to employers when women are recruited, which has the effect of enabling maternity laws to be circumvented;

32. Notes that social security is particularly targeted by two of the main thrusts of austerity policy: reduction of budget deficits through reducing social spending, and improving competitiveness and cost-efficiency by cutting contribution payments by enterprises;

33. Calls on the Commission to support the Member States in increasing the employment prospects of disadvantaged women, such as migrant women, women from ethnic minorities, women with disabilities and single mothers, and thus increasing their chance of leading an economically independent life, by improving their access to education and vocational training;

34. Calls on the Member States to develop specific measures targeted at the long-term unemployed, essentially focusing on vocational training and swift reintegration into the job market; calls on the Member States to strengthen social protection for the unemployed as a means of addressing the rise in poverty, particularly among women;

35. Calls on the Member States to encourage women to participate in vocational training in the context of lifelong learning, in response to the switch towards a sustainable economy, with the emphasis on SMEs, thereby enhancing the employability of female workers;

36. Calls on the Member States to apply specific measures targeted on young workers, specifically by prohibiting the abusive hiring of young people for posts that are essentially permanent and ensuring the existence of written contracts, traineeships and training grants which respect applicable collective bargaining agreements, and provision of social security;

37. Calls on the Member States to combat the undeclared employment of women, since this contributes to the total deregulation of women’s pay structures, causing increased poverty among women, especially in later life;

38. Stresses that making the Youth Guarantee a reality requires public investments that will promote net job creation, create permanent jobs with proper employment contracts, and respect collective bargaining for wages and the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value; urges the Member States to ensure that the Guarantee, when implemented, does not reproduce the same gender inequalities existing in the labour market;

39. Encourages the Member States to provide adequate financial support and appropriate training to women wishing to set up businesses, with a view to fostering female entrepreneurship;

40. Insists that prevention is better than cure; therefore urges the Member States to more closely follow the situation of children, by monitoring youth unemployment, the percentage of young people not in education, employment or training, family disposable income, the at-risk-of-poverty rate and wage inequality, since this will enable the more rapid and accurate identification of major social and employment problems;

41. Strongly recommends to the Member States that they boost investment in public education, strengthening its democratic outlook and pedagogical organisation, upgrading school curricula, improving working conditions in schools, and guaranteeing universal free access to high-quality and inclusive educational and social provision and thereby combating academic failure and reducing dropout rates;

42. Strongly urges the Member States to increase their investment in public services, education and health, particularly primary care health services relating to sexual and reproductive health; recommends to the Member States that they safeguard women’s right to free, high-quality public gynaecological and obstetric healthcare services and to sexual and reproductive health in general, including the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy; stresses that Member States should ensure that all women share the same rights when it comes to contraception, maternity or sexuality and calls therefore on the Member States to collect data to establish knowledge of the situation faced by women regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights;

43. Recalls that on 22 January 2012the EU ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, according to which the signatory states undertake to ensure and promote the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability, and to refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the Convention;

44. Calls on the Member States to recognise that women are contributing to society when they choose – or are compelled – to work shorter hours in order to devote themselves to their child(ren) or to one or more dependent close relatives, given that they can find no accessible care facilities;

45. Points out that women are increasingly becoming family breadwinners; calls on the Member States to take steps to establish a ‘family caregiver’ status serving not only to prevent women from being penalised at work, but also to confer legitimacy on the vital role that they are performing in society;

46. Points out that the measures to raise the employment rate in the 20- to 64-year age group to 75 %, in keeping with the 2020 strategy, have now been drawn up, and urges the Member States to implement those measures;

47. Points to the vulnerability of women with disabilities and women with a disabled dependent child; urges that care facilities and services be set up in order to ensure that these women can strike a better balance between family needs and their careers and that they will not have to give up work altogether because they have no support and no-one to look after their dependants between birth and adulthood;

48. Calls on the Member States to increase their child support budgets in order to expand the public network of day care, nurseries and public services providing extracurricular activities for children and day care and residential homes for the elderly, who are cared for almost entirely by women in the private sphere; calls on the Member States to create adequate conditions to improve women’s employability and increase their participation in the labour market, through affordable care and childcare, parental leave schemes and voluntary flexible working conditions, particularly when women return to the labour market after long periods of inactivity as a result of having children or meeting other family commitments; recalls in this context the targets set and reaffirmed by the Council in the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020) to improve the provision of childcare in the Member States (the Barcelona targets); calls on the Commission to address the lack of affordable childcare facilities in its country-specific recommendations for 2014;

49. Stresses that fiscal tightening should not jeopardise the progress achieved by policies promoting gender equality;

50. Reiterates the call it made on the Commission in its resolution of 13 March 2012 to put forward a comprehensive communication on the situation of single-person households in the EU, with policy proposals to achieve fair treatment in areas such as taxation, social security, housing, healthcare, insurance and pensions, based on the principle of policy neutrality with regard to household composition;

51. Urges the Member States to recognise the value of unpaid housework for the wellbeing and cohesion of families, and to include it in national accounting as an instrument with which to increase public awareness of the social value of such work;

52. Notes that the destruction of jobs and the rise in unemployment are two of the most salient features of the current crisis, as shown by the increase in unemployment rates in the EU27 from September 2011 to September 2012, from 9.8 % to 10.6 %, representing a further 2.145 million people unemployed(36);

53. Stresses that all Commission family policy initiatives must cover all families, without discrimination as regards their composition;

54. Highlights the importance of developing the legal construct of shared ownership, with the aim of ensuring that women’s rights in the agricultural sector are fully recognised, that they receive appropriate social security protection, and that their work is recognised;

55. Notes that in 2012, according to Commission figures, 31.6 % of men and 40 % of women in the EU aged between 30 and 34 have a higher education qualification; points out that women account for 60 % of new graduates; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take further measures to improve women’s access to and participation in the labour market, especially in sectors such as high technology, research, science and engineering, in which they are still under-represented, and to improve the quality of employment of women, in particular by means of lifelong learning and education programmes at every level; urges the Commission and the Member States to make use of the Structural Funds to achieve this;

56. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to give priority to and take particular note of groups of women with special needs, such as disabled women, women with dependants, elderly women, minority and immigrant women and women with little or no professional training, and to develop targeted measures to meet their needs and circumstances;

Combating sexist stereotypes

57. Stresses that in order to eliminate gender stereotypes and promote equal behaviour models in social and economic life, it is extremely important to inculcate these values from an early age, in schools, and to carry out awareness campaigns in schools, workplaces, and the media, highlighting men’s role in promoting equality, the equal distribution of family responsibilities and creation of work-life balance; calls on the Commission and the Member States to commit themselves more firmly to ending the sexist stereotypes conveyed by the media and draws attention to important measures included in Parliament’s report on the elimination of gender stereotypes, which was adopted in 2013; calls on the Member States, and especially their media regulators, to consider the place accorded – in both quantitative and qualitative terms – to women and to promote a balanced, non-stereotyped image of women, in a way that is respectful of women’s dignity, their diverse roles and their identity and placing greater emphasis on their social development, constitutional rights and role in civil society, institutions and the working world, as well as in the media, and in advertising and promotional materials and television in particular, not least in order to avoid conveying gender stereotypes and curb any tendency to hypersexualise little girls;

58. Recommends that the Member States develop educational programmes in secondary schools, for teenagers from the age of 12 and above, to combat gender stereotyping. This education should be based on good practice and should educate male and female students on gender, in an attempt to destroy stereotypes relating to social roles and the representation and significance of being a woman or a man; considers that these stereotypes – according to which, for example, women are designed to carry out certain jobs, such as looking after children, the elderly and the home, while men are designed to have an income-producing job and career – should not be included in textbooks;

Equality in decision-making

59. Emphasises that in order to promote the participation of women in decision-making, measures need to be set in motion to combat gender-based discrimination as well as stereotypes and prejudices about the role of women, along with specific policies to support equal rights and opportunities in economic, social, political and cultural life (to combat irregular and unforeseeable working hours, applying fair remuneration and equal pay, and expand public childcare, nursery and school networks), with the positive effect of strengthening women’s participation at all levels of social and political life;

60. Points to the need to redouble efforts at European level to increase the representation of women in political spheres and in the European institutions, including the European Parliament; believes that women’s participation needs to be encouraged at national, regional, and municipal level; points out that political parties have a key role to play; maintains that evenly balanced participation in politics by women and men is one of the democratic foundations of our political system and is crucial in order to achieve a democratic representation of EU citizens; notes that the above point has a direct and indirect bearing on women’s participation in elections; calls on the Member States and national parties to take gender into consideration when drawing up election lists and making appointments to senior administrative posts in the institutions;

61. Points out that the use of electoral quotas has positive effects on women’s representation, and welcomes the parity and gender quota systems incorporated by several Member States into their legislation; calls on the Member States with particularly low representation of women in political assemblies to consider introducing equivalent measures; considers that the European Union, given its values and ambitions, should set an example by moving closer to gender parity within the institutions; points out that the European elections of 2014, which will be followed by the appointment of the next Commission and the nominations for senior administrative positions within the European institutions, represent a chance to move towards parity democracy at EU level; therefore asks the Member States to support parity by nominating a man and a woman as candidates for the post of Commissioner, and asks the President-elect of the Commission to bear in mind the parity objective when forming the Commission ;

62. Considers it regrettable that, according to Parliament’s figures, female MEPs make up only 36 % of the total, with 64 % being men; notes that the proportion of women members in the national parliaments is as low as 26 %, compared with 74 % for men; notes that the figures in the case of the Commission are 32 % and 68 % respectively;

63. Considers that the inclusion of women in economic decision-making processes is not only a matter of justice but is also essential to improving entrepreneurial competitiveness, and that it should therefore be made a strategic goal in all policies to support productive activity; believes that inequality in this sphere amounts to a poor management of talent incompatible with the 2020 development model, which has knowledge as one of its key components;

64. Stresses that according to Commission statistics, 15.8 % of seats on the boards of the largest listed companies are currently held by women and that progress in rectifying the situation has been slow, with an annual increase of just 0.6 % among the top business leaders of these companies; notes that 97 % of company board presidents are men; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to take measures to promote a better gender balance in management positions in companies and for their swift implementation, thus contributing to better business performance, improved competitiveness and economic gains for the EU; highlights that it has been acknowledged that more women in top economic positions bring strong organisational and financial company performance as well as a better quality of decision-making; welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive aimed at boosting women’s representation on non-executive boards of listed companies by laying down a 40 % minimum target for women, to be met by 2020; calls on the Commission to use awareness campaigns to promote greater representation of women in the decision-making bodies of small and medium-sized enterprises; calls on the Council, as a matter of urgency, to engage in negotiation with Parliament in relation to its first reading of the file in order to reach an agreement among all the EU institutions by the end of the seventh legislative term;

Violence against women

65. Observes that the feminisation of poverty could lead to an increase in female trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced prostitution and reduce women to greater financial dependence, including those who have suffered domestic violence;

66. Observes that the economic crisis contributes to harassment and violence of all kinds, as well as prostitution, with women as the victims, and that this is a violation of human rights; insists on the need to increase the public, financial and human resources available for intervention in support of groups at risk of poverty, and to tackle situations of risk faced by children and young people, the elderly, people with disabilities and the homeless;

67. Underlines the fact that the prostitution is a form of violence, an obstacle to equality between the sexes and a way to develop organised crime; calls on the Member States to recognise prostitution as a form of violence against women, and not to be considered a job, even if it is ‘voluntary’;

68. Points out that the main responsibility for addressing trafficking in human beings lies with the Member States; considers it unsatisfactory that as of April 2013 only six Member States had notified full transposition of the EU directive against trafficking in human beings, whose deadline for implementation expired on 6 April 2013;

69. Stresses the importance of combating violence against women to achieving equality between women and men; calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to undertake concerted action in this field and to take further steps, as a matter of priority, to strengthen policies and measures to protect women’s dignity and to combat violence against women; welcomes efforts, at both Community and national levels, to combat violence against women, men and children such as the directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and the legislative package to strengthen the rights of victims in the EU, but stresses that this phenomenon remains a major unresolved problem; calls on the Commission to establish 2016 as the EU Year to End Violence against Women, and to deliver a related EU-wide strategy and an action plan to end violence against women, comprising legally binding instruments; this should include putting forward, by the end of 2014, a proposal for an act based on Article 84 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union establishing measures to promote and support the action of Member States in the field of prevention of violence against women, as well as awareness-raising actions, data collection, and funding for NGOs, as announced in the Council conclusions of March 2010; appeals to the Member States to ratify, at the earliest possible date, the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on violence against women, and calls on the Commission to promote national ratifications and launch the procedure for the accession of the EU to the Convention, after having assessed the consequences and added value of accession;

70. Emphasises that the elimination of gender stereotypes is a key element in combating violence against women and requires firm commitment in the family sphere, the educational system, the media, advertising and everyday language; considers that this response calls for a comprehensive strategy involving public authorities, private organisations and social agents, as well as an individual commitment encouraged by institutions, action plans, and behaviour matching the values concerned;

71. Insists on zero tolerance towards all forms of violence against women as one of the top priorities of all institutions throughout Europe; calls on the Member States to continue, and indeed expand, targeted prevention programmes to tackle the sources of violence against women and to ensure that access is available to various forms of prevention, legal protection and assistance in relation to domestic violence, also with reference to stalking; points to the importance of greater cooperation, whether proceeding horizontally or vertically, in which the authorities of the Member States, regional and local authorities, women’s organisations, and civil society should work effectively to stamp out violence against women and calls on the Commission to promote this cooperation in order to prepare and implement an efficient strategy to fight violence against women.

72. Notes that violence of this kind causes several hundred deaths in the EU every year and that it demands immediate practical responses;

73. Underlines the need to improve the collection of high-quality primary data on support services for women who have survived domestic violence, and that such data need to be comparable, reliable and not limited to criminal statistics provided by the police, which should be complemented with comprehensive, high-quality studies based on field research;

74. Notes that, according to findings obtained in 2012, under the Cyprus Presidency, specialised services such as refuges for female victims of violence or emergency helplines are not available everywhere and in any case are not spread evenly throughout the Member States; calls for these essential services to be developed so that women can report the acts of violence inflicted on them;

75. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to combine their efforts in fighting organised crime and trafficking networks, and to adopt and strengthen legislative, administrative, educational, social and cultural measures that discourage demand for prostitution;

76. Points out that the EU’s migration policies aimed at ‘combating illegal immigration’ are based on a philosophy of criminalising the status of ‘illegals’ and clamping down on immigrants, as reflected in the 2010 Return Directive, and believes these policies should be refocused towards social inclusion in host countries; stresses that these policies are adding to the vulnerability of, and failing to protect, undocumented migrant women victims of violence, who, for the most part, do not seek help;

77. Points out that undocumented migrant women are in an especially vulnerable position and that in many countries those who suffer domestic violence have no source of support other than the public health services;

78. Calls on the Commission to implement its commitment to mainstream gender equality in the Common European Asylum System;

79. Recommends to the Member States, in their national action plans to eliminate domestic violence, that they lay down the obligation of supporting undocumented migrant women in exactly the same way as women who are legally resident, without any requirement for institutions to report such cases to the authorities;

80. Notes with concern that – according to data from the Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States: Violence against Women, Victim support (2012) published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) – professional training and the sustainability of funding for public services, associations and NGOs providing services to women in situations of domestic violence are clearly being affected by the consequences of the economic crisis;

81. Recommends that the Member States strengthen their free public health services in the area of support to women subjected to violence and that they increase the number of refuges and their capacity, with specialised assistance for women of different nationalities in a range of languages and for women with disabilities and ensuring women are offered adequate legal assistance as well as psychological counselling and therapy; non-EU-born migrant women and Roma women should have access to specialised health care services in this respect;

82. Asks the Commission to set up a European Observatory on Violence Against Women, within the existing institutional structures (European Institute for Gender Equality);

83. Points to the importance of systematic training for the qualified personnel who look after female victims of physical, sexual, or psychological violence; considers such training to be essential for providers of first- and second-line care, including emergency social services and medical, civil protection, and police services;

84. Stresses the need to ensure continued funding for programmes that promote gender equality and the fight against all types of violence against women, children and young people in order to tackle the deeply rooted stereotypes in our society;

85. Stresses the need to include gender mainstreaming and the fight against gender violence in the EU’s external, development cooperation and international trade policies; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to actively promote and support the empowerment of women to participate in their bilateral and multilateral relations with states and organisations outside the Union; stresses the importance of applying UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in the ambit of the EU’s external action;

86. Points out that the Commission must continue its efforts to include gender equality in all negotiations with third countries and in its country progress reports; emphasises Parliament’s important role in providing criticism and keeping tabs on the implementation of gender equality measures in country strategies and reports;

87. Points to the importance of following up and specifically taking into account the recommendations made in the reports of the European Institute for Gender Equality;

88. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1)

OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 4.

(2)

OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.

(3)

OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, p.2.

(4)

OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.

(5)

Annex to Council conclusions of 7 March 2011.

(6)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0375.

(7)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0073.

(8)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0247.

(9)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0074.

(10)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0045.

(11)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0322.

(12)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0225.

(13)

OJ C 341E, 16.12.2010, p. 35.

(14)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0085.

(15)

3 Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0069.

(16)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0330.

(17)

Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0127.

(18)

OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p.77.

(19)

OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p.79.

(20)

OJ C 67E, 18.3.2010, p.31

(21)

OJ C 233E, 28. 9.2006, p.130

(22)

SWD(2013)0171.

(23)

Source: Eurostat

(24)

Source: European Commisson, Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012 (SWD(2013)0171),

(25)

Source: Eurostat 155/2012, 31 October 2012.

(26)

EU Employment and Social Situation; Quarterly Review, IP/13/879, 2.10.2013.

(27)

Eurofound, 3rd European Quality of Life Survey, p. 57.

(28)

European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Family life and work, 2010.

(29)

Opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality for the Committee on Budgets on the interim report in the interests of achieving a positive outcome of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 approval procedure, 19.9.2012.

(30)

European Commisson, Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012 (SWD(2013)0171),

(31)

European Commisson, Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012 (SWD(2013)0171), p.54.

(32)

European Commission, ‘She Figures 2012 - Gender in Research and Innovation’ (2013).

(33)

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/who/partners/international organisations/documents/un-woman_en.pdf

(34)

‘European Added Value Assessment of March 2013 on combating violence against women’, PE 504.467.

(35)

Commission communication on ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. Reigniting the entrepreneurial spirit in Europe’ (COM(2012)0795).

(36)

Eurostat press release, 31 October 2012, 155/2012.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

In 2012, a year in which EU-decided austerity policies – particularly economic governance policies – were being implemented, and three EU countries were under intervention from the Troika (Greece, Ireland and Portugal), the rapporteur focused attention on the real-life problems affecting the daily lives of a large proportion of women in the EU.

In 2012, over 2.145 million more people were unemployed in the EU than in 2011. The risk of poverty was 26 % for women and 23.9 % for men.

Millions of women face unemployment, precarious employment, reductions in the real value of their salaries and pension rights, low wages and wage discrimination. Young women find themselves in an extremely uncertain situation, trapped between the difficulty of accessing the labour market (with youth unemployment at 23.1 %) and the labour instability to which they are subjected, endangering the economic independence which is their key to equal participation. Many women and young women and forced to emigrate in search of a better life.

Many women working in industry, commerce and social areas with intensive work schedules and low wages find themselves in situations of poverty even when employed. A growing number of women workers find themselves combining their professional activity with additional forms of work in order to provide for themselves and their families, which are often affected by unemployment. Women are also having to face the harsh reality of asking for help when they have no money to feed their children. Qualified female technical and academic staff are suffering a decline in their socio-professional status and their quality of life.

In 2012 there were 25.4 million children at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU – a dramatic social problem, with women usually at the forefront of combating and trying to lessen its impact. Budget cuts to public services result in reduced access to education and health services, with women often being denied proper pregnancy care. The cuts in social benefits endured by many families are even harder to bear in situations of unemployment.

The much-vaunted need to strengthen women’s political, social, collective and cultural participation is clearly at risk, particularly in the case of women at the lowest levels of society.

Clearly, while inequalities exist within countries, they are becoming even more pronounced from one country to another. Unemployment rates in the southern euro zone and on its periphery reached an average of 17.3 % in 2012, while they stood at 7.1 % in the north and centre of the euro zone. Poverty increased in two thirds of the Member States, but not in the remaining third.

The creation of large geographical areas providing cheap labour, allowing wealth to accumulate in the hands of the major economic groups, and the destruction of public services prior to rendering them newly profitable through privatisation were the solutions chosen by the major economic and financial groups to solve their problems in accumulating wealth. The EU and several national governments tried to put these ideas into practice.

What is now called the ‘economic and financial crisis’ is also a crisis of democracy and gender equality. It is a crisis of achievements won over the course of centuries and fought for by generations of women.

The rapporteur stresses that it is not possible to pursue these policies while attempting to ‘avoid’ or ‘minimise’ their gender impact, as is often suggested. Gender equality cannot exist alongside these policies. The report therefore proposes the following measures to counteract these social and economic policies:

–   Promotion of the right to jobs with rights, placing women’s creative and productive capacities at the service of their equal participation in all areas of activity and economic and social development;

–   The right to jobs with rights, the elimination of direct and indirect wage discrimination and the right of women to combine work with motherhood without being penalised for it;

–   Upgrading of wages and pensions, a guaranteed adequate level of social protection to cover unemployment, sickness, maternity and paternity, invalidity and old age, and equal access for all women to free, high quality public health services;

–   Prevention of the root causes and factors underlying poverty and social exclusion and the rise in prostitution and trafficking in women and children, and increased funding for organisations and institutions providing support to women victims of violence.


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

23.1.2014

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

13

8

2

Members present for the final vote

Regina Bastos, Edit Bauer, Marije Cornelissen, Edite Estrela, Zita Gurmai, Mikael Gustafsson, Mary Honeyball, Constance Le Grip, Astrid Lulling, Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, Siiri Oviir, Antonyia Parvanova, Joanna Katarzyna Skrzydlewska, Marc Tarabella, Marina Yannakoudakis, Inês Cristina Zuber

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Anne Delvaux, Iñaki Irazabalbeitia Fernández, Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, Christa Klaß, Angelika Werthmann

Substitute(s) under Rule 187(2) present for the final vote

Michael Cashman, Elisabetta Gardini, Anna Hedh

Last updated: 13 February 2014Legal notice