EPSU WGEC Committee adopts statement on Refugee Women

(8 November 2016)The EPSU Women’s and Gender Equality Committee adopted a statement on labour market integration of refugee women at its meeting in Brussels, on 7 November 2016.

There is an unprecedented and increasing number of men, women and children seeking asylum in Europe. The WGEC affiliates discussed the gender dimension of the migration crisis, in particular the fact that women need to be protected before, during and after their flight from their home countries. They also need to be able to access services which enable them to integrate into the labour market.

EPSU is also asking EU institutions to make sure that migration and asylum policies take gender into account in their design, implementation and evaluation of migration and integration policies.  Women’s access to Europe’s labour market has to be faciliated through utilising appropriate resources,  this is particularly important in the case of undocumented migrant women. The chronic underfunding of public services, in particular migration asylum processing services and understaffing risks further undermining the equal treatment of refugees and migrants.

Work-Life Balance Negotiations

The ETUC (Barbara Hellfferich, Adviser) presented the final document of the ETUC response on the second-stage consultation, regarding work-life balance, which ended in late September. The ETUC’s priorities focus on a package with five actions: acting on maternity, parental, paternity, carers’ leave and flexible working time arrangements. After several meetings with the European Commission it remains unclear if the social partners will enter into negotiations- work-life balance is part of the last tripartite Social Dialogue Meeting. Employers organizations have so far refused to enter into negotiations.  The ETUC is preparing a detailed lobbying strategy to turn the tide. Several EPSU members stressed the importance they place of moving forward with to this issue. The financial and economic crisis has accelerated the need to create the best working conditions for working parents in Europe.

EU Strategy on Gender Equality needs to be strengthened

The European Commission (G. Böckermann, Head of Equality Unit) presented the 31 action points of the strategic engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019. Increasing female labour participation and equal economic independence of women and men, reducing the gender pay gap, earnings and pension gap and fighting poverty among women, promoting equality between women and men in decision-making, combating gender-based violence and protecting and supporting victims, promoting gender equality and women’s rights across the world. This strategic document has been supported by the Council and Member States who agreed that more action is needed in the area of gender equality.

EPSU affiliates critized the lack of ambition of the strategy and the necessity to act on concrete work-life balance measure to improve the working life of men and women in Europe.

Preparing EPSU Women’s Conference in 2018

The WGEC Committee also discussed the way forward of EPSU’s gender equality work. A women’s conference will be organized in 2018 to prepare for Congress 2019. Following themes and sub-themes were mentioned to be included in a more detailed action plan: the impact of taxation, digitalisation and working time arrangements on working women.