EWL News

“The pink ghetto”

[Brussels, 26 September 2014] The Commission held a two day conference on the developments in the labour market after the economic crisis. Over 40 speakers tried to untangle the reasons that unleashed the crisis the effect of the crisis on the labour market – who the real “losers” of the crisis are, what structural changes have emerged - and most importantly what strategies actually work in order to reach the 75% employment goals in the EU2020. Are the EU structural adjustment programs really working? What policy packages can we use? Who should we target - youth, the elderly, women?

The aim of the conference was highly ambitious and consisted of a wide range of ideas and topics, although it often came down to one specific matter: the development of insecure jobs in the labour market. Eexamples of such were so-called “mini jobs”, underpaid traineeships, “zero hour contracts”, the tremendous increase of part time jobs, and undermined social security systems.
One speaker announced the “precariat as the new working class”. He pointed out that this was not a temporary, fragmented part of the labour market due to the crisis – as many try to argue - but rather as an integrated and axiomatic group of the new, neo-liberal concept and reality of the labour market.

The question on who the precariat were was posed and the term “The Pink Ghetto” entered the debate. The majority of the precariat are women:, the pay-gap in Europe is still at 16%, the pension-gap almost 40% (with no sign of decreasing), poverty among women is 2% higher than men. Women are not only under-paid but they also tend to have insecure jobs, part-time jobs and are dependent on social security systems or other breadwinners. A sufficient term to summarise the inequalities women face in the new conception of the labour market in the EU might be: The Pink Ghetto.

While the EU2020 employment goal aims for 75% employment for both women and men – if not specifying WHAT kind of employment that 75% consists of – we do not have the whole picture. Therefore, a summarising term for the situation of women in the new European labour market might serve a purpose. By revealing the true colours of the new precariat, we can make sure the policies and reforms that are taking place on the EU political agenda serve the right purposes.

The Pink Ghetto: Where blue politics yields.

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