REPORT on non-discrimination based on gender and intergenerational solidarity

    8.12.2008 - (2008/2118(INI))

    Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality
    Rapporteur: Anna Záborská

    Procedure : 2008/2118(INI)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  


    on non-discrimination based on gender and intergenerational solidarity


    The European Parliament,

    –    having regard to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1995 Global Human Development Report studying ‘The revolution for gender equality’[1],

    –    having regard to the resolution of the Council and of the Ministers for Employment and Social Policy, meeting within the Council of 29 June 2000 on the balanced participation of women and men in professional and family life,

    –    having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2000 on the Communication from the Commission ‘Towards a Europe for all ages - promoting prosperity and intergenerational solidarity’[2],

    –    having regard to the Commission Communication of 18 March 2002 entitled ‘Europe’s response to world ageing - promoting economic and social progress in an ageing world - a contribution of the European Commission to the 2nd World Assembly on Ageing’ (COM(2002)0143),

    –    having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2004 on reconciling professional, family and private lives[3],

    –    having regard to the European Youth Pact adopted by the Brussels European Council of 22 and 23 March 2005,

    –    having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 16 March 2005 entitled ‘Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations’ (COM(2005)0094),

    –    having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations[4],

    –    having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 October 2006 entitled ‘The demographic future of Europe – from challenge to opportunity’ (COM(2006)0571),

    –    having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2007 on a regulatory framework for measures enabling young women in the European Union to combine family life with a period of studies[5],

    –    having regard to the Commission Communication of 10 May 2007 entitled ‘Promoting solidarity between the generations’ (COM(2007)0244),

    –    having regard to the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Communication from the Commission on ‘Promoting solidarity between the generations’[6],

    –    having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2007 on equality between women and men in the European Union - 2007[7],

    –    having regard to the Commission Staff Working document entitled ‘Europe’s demographic future: facts and figures’ (SEC(2007)0638),

    –    having regard to its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the demographic future of Europe[8],

    –    having regard to its resolution of 3 September 2008 on equality between women and men - 2008[9],

    –    having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

    –    having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A6‑0492/2008),

    Main observations on everyday life

    A.  whereas the Lisbon Strategy aims to ensure that 60% of women able to work are in employment; whereas efforts relating to the demographic challenge seek to promote higher birth rates to meet future requirements; whereas equal opportunities between men and women and the work-life balance remain central to the debate on demographic change, recognising the diversity of 21st century family patterns; whereas these two public policies target the same pivotal population group of women aged between 18 and 49, who are viewed both as potential workers and as carers, i.e. as mothers carrying life, bringing children into the world and raising them mainly together with fathers, but also as children who may need to take care of the elderly, or dependent or disabled persons; whereas the different policies now need to be built not just around the professional performance of workers but also around their role in society and their place in the family unit,

    B.   whereas the quantitative and qualitative objectives of the Lisbon Strategy and the new Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs – especially where female and adult employment is concerned – are dictated by the realisation that, from the point of view of sustainability, it is intolerable to let the resources in question and their potential go to waste and that the stability of pension and welfare systems is in jeopardy,

    C.  whereas considerable gaps between women and men persist in all other aspects of work quality, for instance reconciling professional and private life; whereas the employment rate for women with dependent children is only 62.4%, as compared with 91.4% for men; whereas 76.5% of part-time workers are women,

    D.  whereas women and men are equal in terms of human dignity and of rights and obligations,

    E.   whereas the figures quoted in the abovementioned Commission Communication of 12 October 2005 show that countries and regions with a high female employment rate that have social protection systems also have a higher birth rate,

    F.   whereas the principle of equal treatment of women and men implies that there must be no discrimination whatsoever, be it direct or indirect, based on gender, least of all on account of motherhood, the fact of shouldering family responsibilities, or marital status,

    G.  whereas caring, for centuries the preserve of women, is all too frequently still not considered ‘proper’ work; whereas its status remains unclear, and a universally recognised definition has yet to be produced,

    H.  whereas equal treatment of women and men is a principle that informs the legal system and as such must be taken into account and observed whenever laws are interpreted and enforced,

    I.    whereas the three main challenges facing the EU – demographic change, globalisation, and climate change – demand intergenerational solidarity based on a wide-ranging pact not just between generations, but between genders and people, who must look to the future with renewed confidence,

    J.    whereas such a pact is intrinsically of a collective nature, applies on a large scale, and is based on individual freedom of choice, especially for women, who must be entitled to have as many children as they want while pursuing such activities as they might wish to engage in at different stages in their lives, and also allowed to change their minds without being subjected to discrimination, since all these things form part and parcel of the rights attaching to citizenship,

    K.  whereas the pact between genders, generations and people must be built on the possibility for individuals to organise their working and private lives and reconcile the economic imperatives of production entailed in gainful employment with the possibility of choosing what tasks to devote themselves to and when, within a context of rights and responsibilities laid down by legislation and agreement,

    L.   whereas intergenerational responsibility requires public authorities to adopt a proactive approach, and all social stakeholders to play a leading role, in order to guarantee high standards in services of general interest and provide for the necessary welfare and social security systems on a sufficient scale,

    M.  whereas the presence of women on the labour market is linked to cultural changes and reforms designed to give effect to policies making for a work-life balance and a redistribution of roles; whereas such policies cover a variety of fundamentally interconnected areas ranging from temporarily shorter working hours, to be achieved by converting employment contracts into part-time working contracts, and leave arrangements (maternity, paternity, parental, and family leave) to the network of personal care services,

    N.  whereas personal care services – aimed at children, older people, those who cannot look after themselves, and the sick – can be either collective (public, private, or a mixture of the two) or individual (home helps, babysitters, carers, etc.),

    O.  whereas demographic changes are having a significant impact on people’s personal and working lives; whereas inadequate services, low wage levels, delay in entering the labour market, lengthy successions of fixed-term contracts, and insufficient incentives for young couples are among the reasons why young people choose not to start a family and have children until later; whereas rigid working patterns and the difficulty of returning to the labour market after spending time as a carer make it difficult to enter freely into decisions, whether they are intended to achieve a work-life balance or involve alternation of work and family life,

    P.   whereas the various forms that intrafamilial solidarity takes, which are non-costable and involve family care, and the obstacles of all kinds encountered in this area, including having to chose between two alternatives which are not recognised as being equivalent in economic terms, hinder the implementation of a genuine policy, which should build links between professional helpers, voluntary workers and families,

    Q.  whereas non-discrimination based on gender, relates, prima facie and as a general rule, not just to women/mothers but also to men/fathers; whereas political action in this field should no longer focus solely on women, and European and national policies should henceforth take into consideration the needs and abilities of men/fathers in this area,

    R.   whereas attention should begin to focus on the concept of care-related discrimination, linked to the fact of taking up maternity, paternity, parental, and family leave, the object being to determine whether discrimination in such instances constitutes forms of discrimination based on gender; whereas it is necessary to agree upon a Europe-wide definition of the concept of multiple discrimination,

    S.   whereas the concept of intergenerational solidarity is not limited to childcare alone but also extends to responsibility for the elderly and dependent, contributing to respect for human dignity and its promotion among future generations,

    T.   whereas there is a generation of middle-aged women in the European population who often combine the role of mothers acting as daughters and hence responsible for elderly and dependent family members with that of wage- and salary-earners on the labour market,

    U.  whereas the work of economists and demographers uses economic and mathematical models to highlight the economic value of household production – carried out mainly by women – particularly in terms of housework, bringing up children, looking after dependants regardless of their age or state of dependency, or running intergenerational solidarity networks,

    V.  whereas longstanding research by economists and demographers suggests that women’s contribution to GDP would be even higher if their unpaid work were factored in,

    W. whereas economists now attach increasing importance to the creation of national wealth by the household economy,

    X.  whereas home caregivers remain discriminated against in terms of the failure to count their years of work towards pensions and entitlements,

    Y.  whereas great poverty must not be a discriminatory factor in the area of intergenerational solidarity, and whereas the poorest families also maintain links and activities that are an expression of solidarity among generations,

    Z.   whereas the manifold discrimination against women/mothers and men/fathers in the official recognition of their informal work is linked to a number of legal, social and economic factors which go beyond the single issue of equal pay for the same job and is due in particular to the fact that women/mothers or men/fathers are obliged to choose formal work simply because of the non-recognition of household work, even though formal work is burdened with the pay gap and upsets the balance between pursuing family plans and professional ambitions,

    AA. whereas a realistic image of older persons must be transmitted in order to overcome negative stereotypes,

    AB. whereas women represent a large majority of the ageing population and the gender pay gap during their active life is reflected in negative consequences for their pensions,

    Recognition of work performed outside the formal labour market

    AC. whereas persons who devote their time and skills to looking after and bringing up children or caring for the elderly should receive social recognition and this could be done by giving such persons individual rights, particularly regarding social security and pensions,

    AD. whereas the educational role played by parents towards children and by children towards elderly and dependent persons and the role of women and men as caregivers towards the elderly and dependent persons are essential for the advancement of the common good and should be recognised as such by cross-cutting policies, including policies for women and men who make a free choice to devote all or part of their time to this activity,

    Special role of young retirees

    AE. whereas there is a lack of recognition of the professional skills of persons aged fifty and over, as evidenced in particular by the higher rate of unemployment amongst this population,

    AF. whereas the early retirement policies implemented in many Member States have produced a new category of persons, ‘young retirees’, who, despite their position on the margin of the formal labour market, very often have the wisdom, skills and knowledge required for the advancement of society, and their involvement should therefore be secured through specific policies aimed at this target group,

    AG. whereas solidarity between generations must, above all, become a social link for the benefit of all, all generations having something to offer each other,

    AH. whereas motherhood and the fact that working people take up their leave entitlements are, regrettably, still a recurring and widespread source of unacceptable discrimination,

    AI. whereas since October 2003 the Commission has been holding consultations with the two sides of industry on the subject of the work-life balance; whereas those consultations, which have entered a second phase, are predicated on the importance of finding policies and means enabling ‘good jobs’ to be married with women’s and men’s responsibilities as caregivers,

    AJ. whereas the policies and means seeking to promote a work-life balance – from part-time working to leave and services – are almost invariably perceived to be aimed exclusively at women, rather than as ways of encouraging fair sharing of responsibilities,

    AK.  whereas the Commission has produced proposals aimed at improving maternity leave and protecting self-employed mothers,

    AL. whereas, taking into account increased longevity, and in order to allow young retirees who so wish to maintain their social integration and financial independence vis-à-vis their families, the Commission and the Member States should promote policies allowing older people to keep their jobs or to return to the labour market, including through measures aimed at combining employment and a retirement pension,

    Specific responsibility of men/fathers

    AM. whereas there is a key role to be played by men in achieving genuine equality,

    AN.  having regard to the importance of emphasising the role of fathers in projecting a positive image of the wife/mother,

    AO.  embracing the conclusions of the first European Conference for Fathers, organised by the Austrian Council Presidency in Vienna on 15 and 16 September 2004,

    Establishing conditions conducive to a free choice leading to a balance between family plans and professional ambitions

    AP. whereas the principles of flexicurity as applicable to women were set out in Parliament’s resolution of November 2007, and whereas working time arrangements in most parts of Europe do not seem to provide much support for people with children and employees with children seem to be less likely to work in jobs with flexible working arrangements than those without[10],

    AQ.  whereas the right balance can only be struck between family plans, private life and professional ambitions if the people concerned have genuine freedom of choice, in economic and social terms, and are supported by political and economic decisions at the European and national level without being penalised, and if the requisite infrastructure is in place,

    AR. whereas there is a risk of being ‘forced’ to work part-time, particularly for women/mothers, this choice often being imposed upon them due to the lack of viable childcare structures, and there is also a risk that the switch from full time to part time might not be allowed, making it difficult, not to say impossible, to achieve a work-life balance,

    Making the invisible creation of national wealth visible

    1.   Calls on the national statistical institutes in the Member States to assess the possibility of including in their national accounting systems the value, broken down by gender, of invisible work in the field of intergenerational solidarity and its contribution to national GDP;

    2.   Welcomes the abovementioned Commission communication of 12 October 2006 and its conclusions aimed at improving the quality of life for all in a context more conducive to the free realisation of family plans, laying emphasis on equality between men and women within the broader Lisbon goals;

    3.   Considers that families have an essential contribution to make to society and therefore need to be supported so as to ensure that individual households will not have to bear the brunt of the challenges and changes now occurring and hence serve as the main social buffer in the face of unemployment, sickness, and disability, becoming a theatre of violence;

    4.   Points to the need to find appropriate medium- and long-term solutions to avert the risk that young people and women will be denied a proper pension and hence exposed to a greater risk of poverty;

    5.   Notes that the number of households in the various EU countries is gradually rising, but their size is being reduced (one-parent families), that more and more children are living in blended families, and that the adoption of non-European children is increasing and immigration is bringing a variety of new family cultures;

    6.   Calls for careful analysis to be brought to bear on the studies which suggest that the employment contract should be replaced by an activity contract so as to allow for mobility, alternation, life cycles, and career breaks, as regards both employment and work in a self-employed capacity, accounted for by training or caring;

    7.   Calls for research facilities and institutes to invest more resources to better effect in the ecological improvement of products aimed at children or those who cannot look after themselves, or intended for household use in general;

    8.   Calls for ways to be found to prevent female employment on the labour market being adversely affected by measures to support, enhance the status of, and put a price on, caring, paying particular attention to the situation in countries where informal work, the underground economy, and undeclared employment already exist on a large scale; calls, therefore, for assessment in order to determine how society and female employment might be affected by measures serving to confer recognition on caring, not least by means of symbolic calculation for pension purposes;

    9.   Urges Eurostat to assess the possibility of developing measures to highlight the value of invisible work in the field of inter-generational solidarity and its contribution to the Union’s GDP and, for this purpose, to work closely with the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Office (ILO);

    10. Calls on the Commission to present specific initiatives to validate the skills acquired in carrying out educational tasks, caring for dependent persons and household management so that these skills are taken into consideration upon re-entry into the labour market; points out that soft skill assessment is central to skill assessment according to the best traditions of national experimentation with systems to make demand for labour intersect with the labour supply;

    11. Calls on the Commission to conduct an awareness-raising campaign and introduce pilot projects to facilitate the balanced participation of women and men in professional and family life;

    12. Calls on the Member States to consider flexible working hours for parents (as a result of free choice) and flexible times for childcare institutions, to help both women and men to combine work and family life more successfully;

    13. Calls on the Member States to take measures to recognise invisible and informal work in the field of intergenerational solidarity carried out by women/mothers, men/fathers and carers at a legal, social and economic level (particularly as regards social security, professional status, earnings and equal opportunities for men and women);

    14. Calls on experts in the social sciences, economics and law, alongside those in philosophy, anthropology, neuroscience, child development science and geriatrics and gerontology, to draw up a clearer definition of the different terms to make them easier to understand and reduce the scope for misuse; calls for a comprehensive pan-European investigation into the nature, level and internal mechanisms of involvement in informal non-market work which is not yet officially recognised, running intergenerational networks and funding for this purpose; calls on the Commission and the Member States to use the results in order to devise better policies in this area;

    15. Calls on the Commission to promote in the Member States, by way of exchange of best practices, the model of the ‘universal service employment cheque’, which is designed to facilitate aid services for individuals and is currently one of the best examples of best practice, which should be disseminated and encouraged in all the Member States;

    16. Asks the Commission to monitor Member States’ good practices in relation to carers and to communicate these best practices to all the Member States, in order to show that carers play a central role in the field of intergenerational solidarity and to encourage implementation of a strategy for carers in Member States;

    17. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take account of the extraordinary potential represented by young retirees, from both a social and an economic point of view, and encouraging them to promote all policies relating to intergenerational solidarity that are slanted towards voluntary work, by including older people in the structure of associations and non-governmental organisations;

    Promoting a balance between family plans and professional ambitions

    18. Calls on the Member States to support and promote the operational programmes launched by the Commission the context of the European Alliance for Families; asks the Commission to step up the development of tools for the systematic exchange of best practices and research in this field;

    19. Calls on the public authorities to take the necessary steps to enable working mothers and fathers to be assisted under policies aimed at promoting a work-life balance and to have access to the means serving to achieve that end;

    20. Asks the Member States to develop policies that promote multigenerational activities, such as ‘bridge-between-generation’ centres where older adults are paid to take care of children;

    21. Calls on the Member States to give priority to leave arrangements (parental leave, adoption leave, solidarity leave) applicable to persons wishing to interrupt their careers to look after a dependant;

    22. Encourages the Member States to provide in their national policies for the introduction of maternity leave of one year, allowing mothers who so wish to foster the fundamental bonding relationship with their children;

    23. Believes that steps need to be taken to improve the treatment not just of maternity leave, but also of paternity and parental leave, with particular reference to the leave taken by working fathers, bearing in mind that in all of the Member States only a small percentage of men make use of their leave entitlements;

    24. Insists that all persons wishing to interrupt their formal careers or reduce the number of hours they work for the sake of intergenerational solidarity should be able to benefit from flexible working arrangements; calls therefore on small and medium-sized enterprises to cooperate more willingly and on the public authorities to exhibit greater financial flexibility in their State aid budget forecasts;

    25. Calls on the Commission, in collaboration with the Member States and the social partners, to launch a review of work-life balance policies, particularly by:

          –  guaranteeing that the cost of maternity is not borne by the employer, but by the public purse, in order to eliminate discriminatory behaviour within companies and to support demographic renewal,

          –  improving accessibility to care and assistance services for dependent people (children, people with disabilities and the elderly) and the flexibility of such services, including services in the home, in the framework of solidarity between generations, by defining a minimum number of structures that are open at night, in order to meet the requirements of both work and private life;

    26. Welcomes the proposal to include a separate article on work-life balance in the directive on the organisation of working time and points to the need to allow for such a provision when laying down the working week and on-call time arrangements;

    27. Calls on the Member States to ensure that all persons who have temporarily interrupted their careers to bring up children or care for elderly or dependent persons can (re)enter the labour market and retain the right to return to their former position and level of career advancement;

    28. Points out that women’s income remains the key to their economic autonomy and to greater equality between women and men in society as a whole;

    29. Stresses that solidarity with our elders must become stronger, but emphasising that it must also be met with reciprocal solidarity towards children and young people; whereas, while older people can pass on wisdom, knowledge and experience, the younger generations offer energy, dynamism, joie de vivre and hope;

    30. Believes that intergenerational solidarity should be promoted by means of judicious fiscal policies (in the form of transfers, deductions, and rebates), measures to promote active ageing, skills development policies, and integrated service networks for children, older people, people with disabilities, and those who cannot look after themselves, assessing how they facilitate or adversely affect personal choices and the work-life balance;

    31. Reminds the Commission and the Member States that it is necessary to adopt affirmative measures for the benefit of women and men to facilitate their return to employment after a period of carrying out family duties (bringing up children and/or caring for a sick or handicapped parent), by promoting policies of (re)integration into the employment market with a view to enabling them to regain financial independence;

    32. Points out that pension schemes in Member States still leave many women with only derived rights based on their husband’s employment record, with the consequence that the majority of older people living in poverty are women;

    33. Calls on the Member States to address the structural factors contributing to inequality in pension schemes including the organisation of care and combining family and work life, inequalities in the labour market, the gender pay gap and direct discrimination in second-and third-pillar pensions;

    34. Calls on the Member States to promote a fiscal policy that takes account of household financial obligations, and particularly the costs of childcare and looking after elderly and dependent persons through a system of taxation or tax breaks;

    35. Calls on the Member States to review their tax systems and set tax rates based on individual rights and consequently demands the individualisation of pension rights as well as social security system rights;

    36. Calls on the institutions and the Member States, with a view to giving effect to the principle of equality between women and men, to take specific measures in favour of women in order to remedy manifest instances of de facto inequality in relation to men; considers that measures of this kind, which should apply for as long as such situations continue to exist, must be reasonable and, in every case, proportionate to the objective being pursued;

    37. Asks national and local authorities to develop programmes targeted at young people that incorporate the intergenerational dimension, so that the younger generation understand that the current levels of prosperity and welfare are due to the efforts and hardships of previous generations;

    38. Calls on the European institutions and all public authorities to take the principle of equality between women and men actively into account when adopting and implementing regulations, drawing up public policies, and pursuing their activities as a whole;

    39. Asks the media to give positive and consistent attention to intergenerational relationships, through coverage of intergenerational issues, discussions among different age groups and, more generally, positive reflection of the older generations’ contribution to society;

    40. Maintains that the principle of equal treatment and opportunities has to be taken into account in all economic, employment, and social policies, as this will help to avert segregation on the labour market and eliminate pay gaps, as well as boosting the growth of female entrepreneurship and enhancing the value of the work that women do, including domestic work;

    41. Believes, given the changes in the family model and women’s gradual entry into the labour market, that it is essential to reform the traditional care arrangements for dependants; recommends that the Member States broaden and add to the protection afforded by their social services so as to ensure that the right of self-fulfilment can invariably be exercised on an equal footing and that dependants are cared for;


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    42. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Economic and Social Committee, the parliaments and national statistical offices of the Member States, the ILO, the OECD and the UNDP.


    (1) The concept of work is not properly defined in the Lisbon Strategy and only relates to formal gainful employment, thus failing to recognise a substantial proportion of social and economic value added in the EU Member States.

    The many interpretations of the concept of ‘work’ need to be adapted to the new requirements of European employment policy. The social context within which an activity is carried out conditions whether this activity can be regarded as ‘formal gainful employment’.

    This European Parliament own-initiative report deals with the social and economic recognition of activities carried out by both men and women that do not qualify as ‘formal gainful employment’.

    The rapporteur makes the case for the recognition not just of traditional forms of gainful employment, but also of the manifold forms of non-gainful employment carried out by women and men primarily in the field of voluntary work and domestic and family work, and for their inclusion in the Member States’ systems of national accounts (SNA).

    (2) The recognition of non-gainful employment is a question of fairness

    The man who rears pigs is a productive, the man who teaches men an unproductive, member of society’, asserted the German economist, Friedrich List, 150 years ago. The non-gainful employment of women and men who educate children, care for the elderly at home, provide intergenerational solidarity and work for the common good at the beginning of the 21st century is still not considered economic work to this day.

    Discrimination occurs when women or men opt of their own free will to develop their personal potential by investing their efforts in nurturing the human resources of future generations, caring for dependents (regardless of their age or the extent of their dependency) or managing intergenerational solidarity networks[1]. No system of national accounts (SNAs) takes that investment into consideration, despite its tangibility. It is ignored by employment statisticians. Lacking concrete statistical form, the informal work which women perform goes unacknowledged, even if all commentators are in agreement as to its actual existence in everyday life.

    The Global Human Development Report 1995 on ‘The revolution for gender equality’[2] makes the following introductory remarks: ‘The monetization of the non-market work of women is more than a question of justice (...) If more human activities were seen as market transactions at the prevailing wages, they would yield gigantically large monetary valuations.[3]

    (3) The economic approach taken by Nobel Prize-winner Gary Becker

    Household production forms a significant part of economic output in all countries, but household work is not recognised when calculating the goods and services that make up GDP. This results in the under-valuation of women who are responsible for the bulk of household production. Families and other households are effectively small companies that produce many valuable goods and services even in the most developed countries. They bring up children, prepare meals, provide shelter, care for the sick, look after and support the elderly, and fulfil many other useful tasks. Women dedicate over 70% of their time to these activities - even in egalitarian countries such as Sweden. Some feminists make a strong case for the view that the inclusion of household work in GDP would raise ‘awareness’ among women, particularly in less developed countries. Other feminists, however, are opposed to an explicit calculation of production by housewives, as this would clash with their aim of getting women away from the kitchen and into employment. It is time to recognise that household work forms part of the goods and services that make up GDP. Given the long working hours devoted to household work, household production accounts for a substantial proportion of a country’s total production. All this work is only reflected in GDP calculations when a family employs somebody to look after the children, clean the house and cook, which is not the case when a parent does these tasks. There are various ways of quantifying and measuring household production. The value of household work can, for example, be measured by the costs that would be incurred if the services provided by the parent were to be purchased on the market. The inclusion of household work in GDP calculations would raise the self-esteem of women and men who stay at home to look after the children and the elderly and to carry out other household duties. It would also give a more accurate picture of GDP and economic growth and could lead to a more nuanced interpretation of public policy which influences the breakdown between household work and gainful employment.[4]

    (4) Update statistics and adapt SNAs: make the concept of work fit for the future and recognise the role of non-gainful employment by women and men in intergenerational solidarity

    Work needs to be re-defined for the SNA to take non-gainful employment into consideration. The validity of the statistics can be enhanced by gaining a better understanding of the activity of women and their behaviour on the labour market. The most accurate possible comparison of the employment behaviour of women and men based on politically neutral questions would reveal the strengths and weaknesses of current statistics and offer insights into possible improvements and how to achieve these.

    There are other reasons that justify such an initiative. Firstly, the users of these statistics - such as market researchers and policy-makers - would then be able to call on much more complete information, which is significant in that men are generally employed in jobs that differ substantially from those of women and are not therefore affected in the same way by fluctuations in the labour market. Users would also have the chance to understand and analyse the special position of women and the particular constraints they face compared to men. This would make it possible to develop sounder arguments in favour of equal opportunities in the labour market. The contribution made by women is systematically underestimated and falsified, giving a false picture of a country’s economy and its human resources and perpetuating the vicious circle of unequal gender treatment, which is exacerbated by inappropriate policies and programmes. It is thus of capital importance to find out which elements need to be included in work-related statistics in order to highlight all the similarities and differences that exist between the situations facing men and women in the labour market, and to offer women a genuine, discrimination-free choice based on age and lifecycle that allows them to optimise their personal development to the benefit of society as a whole.

    (5) Promoting performance-related justice and freedom of choice

    Manifold discrimination in the performance of non-gainful employment arises from the conflict between the logic of the market and the logic of human nature. The economic logic of the market dictates that any member of the public of reproductive age must be integrated into the employment market. The logic of human nature tells us, however, that a newborn child quite simply needs his mother and father to lay the foundations for the development of his or her human capacities[5]. There has been no radical adaptation of European policies to meet these practical human requirements. There is still no reconciliation, in accounting terms, between professional and family life, and no overall view of the two spaces and times taken together. Women and men have been allowed to embark on formal professional activities without any thoroughgoing review of the ways in which businesses operate.

    However, the various alternatives around which the choice between formal employment and non-gainful employment hinge do not have the same consequences. As soon as women and men have to chose between a formal job, commonly known as a ‘professional career’ and non-gainful employment, commonly known as ‘nurturing human resources and intergenerational solidarity’, manifold latent discrimination materialises in the form of having to choose between two alternatives that are not recognised as equivalent in economic terms[6].

    Society’s approach therefore consists of seeing to it that women and men can chose between the two logics, both of which have a raison dêtre, by adopting a perspective broader than that of the market. This hinges around a requirement not to fall in with the easy economic logic of a market freed of any restrictions, but to further the common good and the future of society by focusing on full personal development. Indeed, Member States’ SNAs and GDP contain no index for people’s happiness or quality of life in the context of their various social relations. An increase in national revenue does not necessarily lead to an increase in collective wellbeing. It is no accident that the social science and economics communities have recently started work on defining an index that reflects the wellbeing of a country’s inhabitants[7].

    • [1]  ARN, Christoph, Hausarbeitsethik: Strukturelle Probleme und Handlungsmöglichkeiten rund um die Haus- und Familienarbeit in sozialethischer Perspektive, Verlag Ruegger, Chur/Zürich, 2000; KREBS, Angelika, Arbeit und Liebe. Die philosophischen Grundlagen sozialer Gerechtigkeit, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 2002;
    • [2]; particularly Chapter 4.
    • [3], p. 6
    • [4]  Becker, Gary: The economics of life. From baseball to affirmative action to immigration law, how real-world issues affect our everyday life, New York :McGraw-Hill, 1997.
    • [5]  Cf. the work of Donald W. Winnicott, as cited in DAVIS, Madeleine and WALLBRIDGE, David: Boundary and Space. An introduction to the work of D.W. Winnicott, Brunner/Mazel (New York) and H. Karnac (London), 1981; for a contemporary view: LIMINSKI, Jürgen und LIMINSKI Martine, Abenteuer Familie: Erfolgreich erziehen: Liebe und was sonst noch nötig ist, Augsburg: Sankt Ulrich, 2002; LIMINSKI, Jürgen, Die verratene Familie. Politik ohne Zukunft, Augsburg: Sankt Ulrich, 2007;
    • [6]  NUSSBAUM, Martha, Women and Human Development, The capabilities approach, Cambridge University Press, 2000.
    • [7]  See the latest work carried out by ILO and World Bank statisticians. A user-friendly Internet site explains the statistical principle:


    Date adopted





    Result of final vote







    Members present for the final vote

    Edit Bauer, Ilda Figueiredo, Věra Flasarová, Claire Gibault, Lissy Gröner, Urszula Krupa, Pia Elda Locatelli, Astrid Lulling, Siiri Oviir, Zita Pleštinská, Anni Podimata, Teresa Riera Madurell, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Anne Van Lancker, Corien Wortmann-Kool, Anna Záborská

    Substitute(s) present for the final vote

    Donata Gottardi

    Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

    Juan Andrés Naranjo Escobar