COFACE’s response to the consultation on Equality between women and men in the EU
estimate, that at the current rate of change, it will take almost 30
years to reach the EU’s target of 75% of women in employment, over 70
years to make equal pay a reality, over 20 years to achieve gender
balance on the boards of Europe’s largest publicly listed companies and
almost 40 years to ensure that housework is equally shared between women
COFACE participated at the last high-level hearing on
the future of gender equality on 20-21 April. This conference was the
launch of the reflection of a revised gender equality strategy by the
European Commission, and a prequel to the public on-line consultation
in its response, underlined the urgency of putting forward measures
supporting families, women and men, to reconcile work, family and care
responsibilities. This will encourage women to enter and stay in the
labour market and tackle the barriers that still keep women away from
equality in employment.
Read COFACE’s response here
Women’s engagement with employed work has immediate visibility since it takes place in the public sphere. Men’s involvement in family work, by contrast, does not tie into the same social value-claiming process. Men’s performance of household and family tasks is arguably much more "revolutionary” in terms of changing established norms and values than women’s involvement in employed work.
Taking family time into account in the organisation of working time
increasingly seems to be the prerequisite for successful implementation of the gender equality principle
. For that to happen, however, the concept of reconciling work and family life needs to be rethought in universal terms, i.e., in terms that embrace both men’s and women’s wants and needs, not just those of women, as has too often been the case so far. These universal terms can only come about from balancing men’s and women’s needs and wants in terms of time for family life.
Where families specifically are concerned, men must realise that the future of equality in the family depends first and foremost on them, their commitment and ability to negotiate and socially impose the legitimacy of their presence in the home to look after and take care of their children or other dependent family members.
Lone-parent fathers who have to contend with this situation could help spearhead change in this respect.
Engineering real equality between men’s and women’s rights cannot stop short at the workplace and public sphere, however essential that may be. It must also extend to the private sphere where the family holds pride of place, failing which the existing gender inequalities will be perpetuated indefinitely.
Published on 09 Nov 2011
Updated on 26 Aug 2015