EWL News

Gender equality very prominent in COFACE conference on Families in the crisis

[Brussels, 2 May 2014] Meeting in Athens on 29 April to discuss Families in the crisis – Finding work-life balance in difficult economic context, the importance of gender equality was high on the agenda. Speakers included European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Laszlo Andor, Greek Secretary General for Gender Equality Vasso Kollia, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare Zeta Makri, Secretary General for Welfare Efi Bekou, representatives of the European Commission, Eurofound, OECD and the European Institute for Gender Equality.

EWL Policy Officer, Mary Collins presented the EWL video clip and report on the impact of austerity measures on women’s rights and gender equality in Europe, in the breakout session, the long-term impact of the crisis on women: employment, health, and pensions. EWL members Efthymia Ioannidou, Coordination of Greek Women’s NGOs for the EWL and Ioanna Manganara, President of the International Alliance of Women, also attended the conference.

As part of its campaign for 2014 as the Year of Reconciling Work and Family Life in Europe, the European Confederation of Family Organisations (COFACE) is leading an advocacy campaign and an Alliance (of which the EWL is a member), to propose a European Reconciliation Package, for the future European Parliament and Commission to make work-life balance a reality for women and men in Europe. Gender equality was high on the agenda as speakers acknowledged that gender equality is part of the ‘DNA’ of the European Union since the beginning, family policies require equal rights of all family members and gender equality is a pre-requisite for moving beyond the crisis to a new model for sustainable growth, which is inconceivable without reconciliation policies. Recognising that women’s overwhelming role in caring for all family members, which represents the widest gender gap, results in women leaving paid employment leading to the feminisation of poverty. It is time that more men take up care and home work. In the words of Secretary General for Gender Equality Vasso Kollia, “we are condemning ourselves and society when women are relegated to secondary roles”.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) presented its draft report on women in the economy as part of the follow-up to the Beijing Platform for Action in which three new indicators are proposed: full-time employment equivalent (indicator 18); part-time employment (indicator 19) and self-employment (indicator 20). The report, along with additional measures, including proposals to add a pillar on gender equality in the framework of the Europe 2020 Strategy, will be endorsed by the EPSCO Council (ministers responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Consumers) in June this year.

The conference Families in the crisis marks the first of a series of events that COFACE will organise throughout 2014. Further information can be found here.

#familiescrisis @COFACE_EU

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