EWL News

Europe 2020 Strategy - EWL publishes first edition of its members’ alternative country-specific recommendations

[Brussels, 25 January 2013] The EWL is pleased to announce the publication of the first edition of its “Ticking Clocks” report, which aims to provide input for the European Commission annual drafting of recommendations to the Member States in socio-economic policies. The report has been drafted with the input of the EWL’s member organisations and is the first of many as the EWL continues to monitor, assess and propose recommendations to strengthen women’s rights and gender equality in the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Since the introduction of the European Semester as a means to implement the Europe 2020 Strategy (2010), economic governance has taken a predominant place on the European stage, with the result that gender equality as a specific objective has slipped off the political agenda. This is also reflected in the Europe 2020 Strategy where there is no specific objective to achieve gender equality. Instead, there is an implicit assumption that women and men are at the same starting point on the labour market as one of the objectives aims to reach an employment target rate of 75% by 2020 for both women and men. While the Europe 2020 Strategy is the overarching signpost aiming to lead the EU towards a smart, competitive and inclusive economy, economic governance is blurring the way forward as economic policies and strategies are becoming more disconnected from the real lives of women and men throughout the EU.

The stakes are high as the economic and financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures are hitting women hard. The impact of the recession on women is likely to become more acute over time as the effects of labour-market shifts are increasingly felt within households, and cuts in public expenditure affect public services and the many women who work in them and use them. The recession is having a significant and damaging impact on specific groups of women who face multiple disadvantages: young and the elderly, migrants and ethnic minorities, the low-skilled, those with short-term contracts, single mothers, women in rural areas, those aged over 45, women with disabilities and women returning to work after childbirth.

The following report gives a voice to the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) member organisations with regards to their analysis of and recommendations for a more gender sensitive Europe 2020 strategy. This is the first year that the EWL’s members have engaged in this way and it can be expected that this will continue to be the case until meaningful consultation and structural changes are carried out which are fully inclusive of women.

The members of the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) drafted ‘alternative’ country-specific recommendations, on the basis of an analysis of the National Reform Programmes (NRPs). This is their response to bridging a democratic gap which is happening as tensions arise between, on the one hand, pressure on Member States to severely reduce public deficits and, on the other hand, the absence of a full gender equality analysis (as well as a social impact analysis) to ascertain the impact of public deficit reductions on (in)equality between women and men as well as the impact on increasing inequalities, poverty and social exclusion as a direct result of austerity. While it cannot be denied that the socio-economic impact is part of a global crisis, women’s contribution to moving out of the crisis should not be underestimated. In fact, there will be no future vision if women continue to be on the margins of economic power and decision-making. This requires more stringent and coherent gender equality objectives, targets and strategies across the broad spectrum of macro and socio economic policies.

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