On 15th May, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted its Opinion on Gender Equality issues. This document is a call to the European Institutions for an ambitious and bold five-year EU gender equality strategy and measures to decrease the gender pay gap, which should have a clear financial commitment in the next European budgetary framework.
The Opinion considers that only by achieving Gender Equality can a society be both economically and socially robust. However, it regrets that the current efforts of the EU are not enough and will take a century to achieve full gender equality if no improvement is made rapidly.
It refers to the need to reinforce work-life balance measures: “The Committee believes that promoting family and gender equality-friendly labour policies and implementing transformative and targeted measures that can re-balance the unequal distribution of caring and domestic tasks between women and men are essential, especially as economic conditions put increasing pressure on workers. Monitoring of the transposition of the EU work-life balance directive will be essential to ensure upward reforms towards adequate paid leave and flexible work arrangements and to assess the impact of the new measures on the uptake of parental and paternity leave by fathers.”
Other recommended actions include:
- Integrate the gender dimension into the Country Specific Recommendations of the EU Semester;
- A call to the European Commission to set up a comprehensive package on care services which could help to effectively implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, and narrow the gender care gap in families;
- The revision of the Barcelona targets on childcare ;
- A call to Member States which have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention on violence against women to do so;
- Increasing the rate of women in top decision-making positions;
- A legal fund which could tackle women’s rights violations in courts.
The annex of the opinion also refers to good practices in promoting gender equality including the COFACE Families Europe work on #TOYSandDIVERSITY, with reference to the 2016 “Study on toy catalogues in Europe: making or breaking stereotypes?” The project and campaign on “Toys and diversity” is a contribution to the current discussions on equality and diversity, stagnating rates of women’s participation in employment and persistence of gender segregation in the labour market. But what image is being given to the younger generations? Are mass media and marketing providing a forward looking and non-stereotypical vision of inclusion and diversity? Alternatively, are they reinforcing stereotypes? Early years are key in the social and cognitive development of every child and the impact that play and toys have on child development contribute to shape the child’s behaviour, interests and choices that he or she will make in later life.
The EESC Opinion can be found here in English, Czech and Danish.