Manual for gender mainstreaming employment policies

AuthorDirectorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (European Commission)
Gender equality is a fundamental right, a common value of the EU, and a
necessary condition for the achievement of the EU objectives of growth,
employment and social cohesion. One of the main challenges for the EU
is to increase women’s employment, to improve women’s situation on the
labour market and eliminate gender gaps.
Over the last few years, important progress have been realised as regards
the employment situation of women. Women’s employment rate has risen
sharply (from 51.4 % in 1997 to 57.1 % in 2006) and is now closer to the
Lisbon target (60 % in 2010). This progress should not obscure the clearly
unfavourable situation of women on the labour market, where major gaps
in relation to men persist.
The gap in employment rates between women and men at EU level was still
close to 15 percentage points in 2006. Moreover, labour market segregation
and inequalities in working arrangements are proving to be persistent, and
this is reected in a signicant and stable gender pay gap. Women are often
obliged to choose between having children or a career, due to the lack of
care services, of exible working arrangements, the persistence of gender
stereotypes and an unequal share of family responsibilities with men.
Progress made by women, including in key areas of the Lisbon Strategy such
as education and research, are not fully reected in women’s position on the
labour market. This is a waste of human capital that the EU cannot aord.
Gender equality has been a fundamental goal of the European employment
strategy since its beginning. It is also seen as instrumental for progress
towards the Lisbon objectives of growth and employment. The Employment
Guidelines used during the Lisbon cycle 2005-08 underline that gender
mainstreaming and the promotion of gender equality should be ensured
in all actions taken. The need for specic actions to increase female
participation and reduce gender gaps in employment, unemployment, and
pay is also stressed.
This dual-track approach (specic actions and gender mainstreaming) has
been reinforced in the European Pact for Gender Equality adopted by the
European Council of March 2006. The Pact encourages Member States:
to promote women’s employment, reduce gender gaps and asks them
to consider how to make welfare system more women’s employment
to adopt measures to promote a better work-life balance for all
(Barcelona targets in childcare, care facilities for other dependents,
promotion of parental leave);
to reinforce governance through gender mainstreaming, notably by
encouraging the Member States to include a perspective of gender
equality in their National Reform Programmes.
Man ua l f or ge nde r m ai nst rea mi ng
employment policies
However, the issues of gender equality and gender mainstreaming were
not very visible in the National Reform Programmes 2005 and 2006 and
the recognition of role and visibility of women’s employment and gender
equality seems to be declining3. For instance, the 2007 Joint employment
report states that: “through the European Pact for Gender Equality, Member
States were asked to include a perspective of gender equality when reporting
on implementation. In spite of this, the promotion of female employment
and systematic gender mainstreaming policies are rarely emphasised”4.
It also appears that some positive developments regarding gender equality
are not reported by the Member States in their National Reform Programmes.
It is therefore crucial, both for the Commission and the Member States, to
revamp the gender equality perspective in the Lisbon Strategy, in compliance
with the Treaty and EU political commitments.
In its Roadmap for equality between women and men (2006-10), the
European Commission set as key priorities the economic independence
of women and men and the reconciliation between work, private and
family life. To this end, the European Commission committed to monitor
and strengthen the gender aspec t in the Strategy for growth and jobs, to
adopt a communication to tackle the gender pay gap, to promote female
entrepreneurship, to support Member States eorts to improve care
services, etc.
In particular, the Commission planned to “prepare in 2007 gender equality
manuals for actors involved” in the Lisbon process. The objective is to
provide a methodological support to Member States and to help them to
better include gender equality issues in their National Reform Programmes.
This manual has been prepared on the basis of a report by the Expert group
on Gender, Social Inclusion and Employment (EGGSIE) which provides
external expertise to the European Commission on gender issues. The report
(still to be nalised) analyses the state of play of gender mainstreaming in
the eld of employment policies5 and aims to present concrete examples
of gender mainstreaming implemented over the last few years in the thirty
countries covered (EU-27 and the EEA-EFTA countries). It shows that the
European countries have undertaken a variety of initiatives, which are
extremely valuable from a gender equality point of view. At the same time, it
also stresses that gender mainstreaming is a long-term process and it is still
at an initial stage. The Manual aims to be a step for a better implementation
of the gender mainstreaming principle in Employment Policies and thus in
the Lisbon strategy.
3 Rubery, J. D. Grimshaw, M. Smith & R. Donnelly (2006). The National Reform Programmes and the gender
aspects of the European Employment Strategy. The coordinator synthesis report prepared for the Equality
Unit, European Commission. University of Manchester.
4 JER (2007). Joint Employment Report 2006/2007. Council of the European Union, Brussels
5 Plantenga, J., Remery C. & J. Rubery (2007). Gender mainstreaming of employment policies
A comparative review of thirty European countries, European Commission. Luxembourg: Oce for
Ocial Publications of the European Communities

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