Women are facing a silent, pernicious crisis

The European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality has called for a halt to budget cuts,  particularly cuts in social expenditure that affect women more than men.

In a resolution the Committee approved a set of proposals to address the impact of the crisis on gender equality including investing in lifelong training and new jobs, public transport, and developing child care facilities.

Women have been punished twice since the start of the economic crisis, by losing their jobs and working part-time. Austerity measures and cuts in the public budget, unemployment, temporary work and low salaries affect women more than men.

The resolution’s rapporteur told the Women’s Committee that women are facing a silent, pernicious crisis which worsens their condition. Even before the crisis more women than men were affected by unemployment, precarious work, part-time work, low wages and slow careers. Today, as a result of austerity policies, they suffer a double punishment. This is an issue at the heart of political equality and employment. 

Women leaving employment or reducing their hours as a result of cuts in social security benefits and welfare infrastructure, such as education, childcare, health and care services, have further feminised poverty. Part-time employment has a long term impact, not only diminishing income, but pensions as well. Committee members believed that despite unemployment rates for men and women being comparable, the crisis affects the latter differently: working conditions for women have become considerably more insecure, their income has diminished, part-time and fixed-term jobs have grown to the detriment of more stable employment.

MEPs called on the European Commission to oppose budget cuts, especially in the public sector, to social security benefits and social welfare, education and childcare services. We also called for an action plan for better childcare, developing company and inter-company crèches. The Committee also reiterated its demand for the promotion of female entrepreneurship by facilitating women’s access to microcredits as well as for improving public transport policy to enable women to be truly mobile and to achieve a better work-life balance.

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