The European Commission has just launched its much-awaited Gender Equality Strategy on the 5th of March, setting the tone for its actions on gender equality in the 2020-2025 period. The Strategy places a strong focus on achieving a “gender equal Europe where gender-based violence, sex discrimination and structural inequality between women an men are thing of the past”.
Therefore, by bringing a progressive lens to the Gender Strategy, FEPS and FES raise the question: Does Europe Care for Care? In this context, Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament (Germany) and Coordinator of the S&D Group, shared her insights with us in the interview below.
2020 is already
hailed as a major focal point in the journey towards gender equality.
Significant anniversaries and milestones are in the horizon and Ursula von der
Leyen, first female Commission President, asked Commissioner
for Equality Helena Dalli to develop a new EU Gender Equality Strategy
(2020-2024). Are you confident that the pace of equality in the
European Union will truly accelerate in this term?
the last 5 years, we had to live with small steps and setbacks in this regard: The withdrawal of the proposal for a maternity
leave directive, the persistent blockage of the directive on women on boards ,
the adoption of a watered down directive on work life balance, and the lack of
a European strategy for gender equality. This time, the outlook is indeed much better:
a new strategy including important legislative and non-legislative measures to
reduce inequalities was announced right at the beginning, the Commissioner for
Equality is ready to fight for women’s rights and we as socialists are ready to
fight with her.
Equality Strategy is expected to be launched on the occasion of the International
Women’s Day in March by the European Commission. What will be the key demands
from The Progressives to ensure that the Strategy translates into ambitious responses
to the persisting gender gaps in Europe?
We are calling forWe are calling for a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan.
calling for a new and ambitious strategy for women’s rights and
gender equality in Europe in the form of an action plan. The strategy needs to
be a clear sign of progress and against backlashes and attacks on women’s
rights and gender equality. We are calling for a strategy that is a political
statement and underlines that every policy made in the EU needs to advance
women’s rights and gender equality with the aim of ending all forms of
discrimination that women suffer in all their diversity.
terms of concrete action, we want to see the ratification of the Istanbul
Convention, in order to create a holistic approach in all EU Member States to
fight, prevent and prosecute violence against women. We want legislative
measures on pay transparency and sanctions in the case of non-compliance and we
want support for the fight against stereotypes and structures leading to
inequality, in order to tackle the root causes of discrimination.
In order to bring
about real transformation for gender equality and social justice, the place of
care – both paid and unpaid – is of central importance In the face of growing
populations, ageing societies, changing family patterns and the increasing need
for adequate infrastructures for work/family life reconciliation, how can the
EU deliver concrete and urgent actions ?
Stereotypes are keeping women and men from living the equal lives they should be able to be living.
The EU can
support the work of the Member States as well as taking own action on this. The
Barcelona targets, still not achieved in all EU Member States, need to be
revised and to evolve. We need to support high quality and accessible care
infrastructure for all, in order to guarantee women’s economic independence. The
implementation of the so-called work-life balance directive will soon start to
make a difference in the Member States. However, we should already start the
discussion about how to further strengthen its scope and how to support the
equal earner and equal carer model, that men and women should be able to live.
Stereotypes are keeping women and men from living the equal lives they should
be able to be living. Therefore, I think, the European Union should be more
active in deconstructing stereotypes and pointing out structural
discrimination. This should be done with an eye on right-wing and populist
movements: We must stand behind our achievements, defend and further develop
these, in order to give women and men in all their diversity the right
framework to live, share and thrive equally.
The Foundation for European Progressive Studies and the
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung started a Social Democratic Initiative for the EU
Gender Equality Strategy, placing the role of care work and care jobs in
achieving gender equality at the center of our common activities in 2020 and
raising the question: Does Europe Care for Care?
By promoting networking throughout Europe
between stakeholders and identifying similarities, differences and best
practices across EU countries, concrete policy recommendations will be
developed with the objective of feeding into concrete measures both national
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