[Brussels, 04 March 2011] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) contributes to the first full-scale national level implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy and to the first European Semester of economic policy coordination by highlighting the implications that gender-blind policy guidance have for European women who already bear the brunt of the effects of the crisis and austerity measures. The EWL makes three recommendations for the integration of a women’s rights and gender equality perspective in the governance and implementation of the 2020 Strategy at EU and national level.
Integrate a women’s rights and gender equality perspective into economic policy coordination
Women’s situation in Europe is getting worse because of the impact of the crisis and of subsequent austerity measures. The policy guidance given by the Commission to Member States for them to implement the 2020 Strategy focuses on further cuts in State expenditure and risks perpetuating this impact. The EWL recommends that the policy guidance given in the Annual Growth Survey takes into account women’s needs and situation and that gender impact assessment is part of the assessment of national policies and of macro-economic developments informing this guidance. National Reform Programmes also must take into account women’s needs and situation. Women, especially feminist economists should take part in economic policy planning at the European and national level. Binding measures should be taken for the equal representation of women and men in economic decision-making.
Address gender inequalities on the labour market and promote the care economy
The labour market reforms proposed under the Europe 2020 strategy and the focus on “cost-effective” measures are not enough to address the longstanding gender inequalities in paid and unpaid work. The EWL recommends that time spent out of paid employment for care reasons must be included in pensions’ calculations and that no proposals that further increase the gender pay and pension gap, which put at risk women’s economic independence, are proposed under the pretext of fiscal consolidation. Member States must in National Reform Programmes study the job creation potential of the care economy, and actively create new infrastructures and quality employment opportunities in the care sector as well as improve the working conditions in this sector. The Council must adopt without delay the revised directive on maternity leave as proposed by the European Parliament (20 weeks and paternity leave provision both with full pay). New targets on equal pay, care services and women’s entrepreneurship should be adopted.
Better address women’s poverty and social exclusion
Further austerity cuts as proposed in the Annual Growth Survey undermine EU’s commitment to reduce poverty by 2020 and will further contribute to the feminization of poverty. The EWL recommends that the “inclusive growth” targets of the 2020 Strategy, in particular the poverty target, are fully integrated into the European Semester process. It must also be ensured that the activities within European Platform against Poverty fully include a women’s rights perspective. Finally, it is necessary to guarantee individualised rights with regards to taxation and social protection entitlements and to introduce poverty indicators counted based on an individual and not a household basis, so as to make women’s poverty visible and thus, easier to address.
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