The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the debate on the European Commission’s Green Paper ‘Towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems’, especially within the context of the current financial and economic crisis. The crisis has clearly shown that European economies are all interdependent and no Member State can guarantee on its own the adequacy, safety and sustainability of its pension system and thus the European Union must make sure that all its Member States apply appropriate governance rules to manage their public finances and new EU rules are needed to improve the solvency of occupational pension institutions.
Despite the strong presence and contribution of women in the labour market, pension schemes still highly mirror the traditional male life-cycle, that is, forty years or more of uninterrupted career, a pattern which rarely, if ever, reflects women’s lives. Given the unprecedented number of women in the labour market over the last decade, and their contribution to economic development (the increased participation of women in the labour market has accounted for a quarter of annual growth in the EU since 1995), it is high time that the issue is directly addressed: gender inequalities in pensions are inherent to the gender pay gap and the feminisation of poverty in older years and begs the question of society’s commitment and political will to real equality between women and men, notwithstanding legal obligations in this area. It is within this context that the current debate needs to be framed rather than concentrate primarily on highly technical and often overpowering aspects to which the political aspect is diluted.
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