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Gender Equality must be at core of economic policies, says EWL President at Irish Presidency Conference

[Brussels, 2 May 2013] EWL President stresses that gender equality is transversal and must be at the core of economic policies, including in employment policies and economic governance.

Speaking at the final panel at the Irish Presidency conference on Women’s economic engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda (29-30 April) EWL President Viviane Teitelbaum, stressed the urgency of including a headline target on gender equality in the European 2020 Strategy as equality between women and men cuts across all policies, including economic policies.

Currently, implicit reference to gender equality is included in the headline target which aims to achieve a 75% employment rate of women and men by 2020. This will not be achievable if the broader spectrum of women’s lives is not taken into consideration as women and men are not at the same starting point on the labour-market. More robust policies will be required to ensure that women have an equal access to economic processes and decision-making to ensure that both women and men become equal earners and equal carers throughout their lives.

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Responding to the different panel discussions over the two day event and sharing the panel with the Social Partners (European Trade Union Confederation and Employer representatives), the EWL President, said that periods out of work and a-typical employment patterns leave scars in women’s careers, which result in poor earnings, negative effect on careers and access to decision-making posts, less chances for life-long learning and higher risks of poverty especially in old age, all of which are being accentuated in the current economic climate. Therefore, a quantitative approach to increasing women’s employment is not enough nor sufficient to address the structural barriers that perpetuate gender inequalities in all areas of life, including on the labour-market.

In her recommendations to the Irish Presidency as a follow-up to this conference, the EWL President, called for gender equality as an explicit objective of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European semester process in line with the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020); renewal of the European Commission’s Strategy for Equality between women and men post 2015; closing of the gender pay gap by 2020; support for the European Year on Reconciling work and family life (2014); investment in high quality, accessible and affordable care policies and services across the life-cycle; pension reforms that are carried out within a gender equality perspective; gender disaggregated targets on poverty and social exclusion; gender impact assessments that are carried out systematically prior to adopting policies to curtail public spending and addressing broader issues that impact on women’s full and equal participation in all areas of life, in particular women in decision-making including in corporate board and addressing all forms of violence against women.

Finally, Viviane Teitelbaum stressed that the European Union has been a pioneer in advancing women’s rights and gender equality for the past 60 years and must continue to uphold this more so than ever in the current economic climate. Europe needs women to move towards recovery.
The conference ended with the signing of the Trio Presidency Declaration on Gender Equality in the presence of the Irish and Lithuanian ministers and a representative of the Greek government.

[1Vivianne Teitlebaum, EWL President speaking on the final panel

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