On 15th November, the European Parliament adopted a report on care services for improved gender equality.
The report notes that “the gender employment gap widens substantially once families have children, which reflects the difficulties that women face in reconciling child-raising and care responsibilities with their work”, that a “quarter of all women are still unpaid contributing family workers” and stresses that “the feminisation of poverty is the consequence of a number of factors, including the gender pay gap”. It calls on fathers to get involved in family care (eg through paternity leave), draws attention to specific care and support needs of families of children with disabilities, and highlights the variety of care services needed (childcare, services for older people, for persons with disabilities). The report stresses that “care services should be designed in such a way as to provide genuine choices for all users, their family members and their carers, be they in full-or part-time employment, self-employed or unemployed.”
It calls on the Commission
- to strengthen the provision of funding for all types of care services with particular regard, where appropriate, for the transition from institutional to community-based services through the ESF+ and other financial instruments whose purpose is to fund social infrastructure.”
- “to revise upwards, in consultation with the relevant actors including the Member States, the Barcelona targets and targets on early childhood education;”
It calls on Member States :
- “to ensure good coverage of care services, both in urban and rural areas, in order to improve the accessibility and availability of care for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those living in rural and remote areas”
- “to introduce ‘care credits’ through labour and social security legislation for both women and men as equivalent periods for building up
pension rights in order to protect those taking a break from employment to provide informal, unpaid care to a dependant or a family member, and to recognise the value of the work that these carers do for society as a whole”.
The report gives a clear mandate to the European Commission to strengthen the care agenda at EU level, including childcare and care/support for persons with disabilities.