Last week in the Parliament, MEPs invited experts to discuss “Combating Child Poverty in the EU”. Whilst I acknowledge that child poverty is often best tackled at a local level, as the speakers rightly pointed out, a co-ordinated approach from EU policy makers through to practitioners at the grass-roots is needed.
As a member of the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, what struck me was the significant impact of parents’ employment status on not only a childs’ risk of living in poverty but on their wider well-being. In the UK, for example, a child is five times more likely to be living in poverty if their lone parent is not in work.
To break the vicious cycle of poverty within families and communities, it is essential to provide employment opportunities for parents that offer flexible working patterns along with accessible and affordable high quality childcare.
I have and will continue to campaign for gender equality within the workplace. Equality of opportunity, however, should not start upon entrance to the labour market, or indeed into education, it should start from the day a child is born.
Parental rights and responsibilities are key in giving children the best start in life and I will be advocating their importance in the breadth of policies considered in my Committee work.