Equal opportunities merely on paper

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At what point are we in terms of equal opportunities? Our country is summoned to give account through the draft of “VII Italian report on the actuation of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In the examined report, to which trade union, through the National Women Coordination, made its observations, all the main norms and procedures realized by the Italian government in order to put into practice the principle of equal opportunities between men and women are inspected.

We have pointed out that the picture that emerges from the Report is, in our opinion, a non-realistic representation of women’s social, work and family conditions in Italy. If it is true that our legislation has obtained good results throughout the years, it is equally true that the adopted norms have not been always converted into good practice. An example are the never-applied measures contained in the art. 22 and those following in the L. 53/2000 in the section concerning “the times of the cities”, measures that should have promoted support policies for the conciliation job-family but that, in practice, with some exceptions, has never been converted in “good and consolidated practice” and, especially, structured in time.

The same works in relation to interventions contained in the recent legislative implementation decree n. 80/2015 of the parliamentary delegation n. 183/2014 ( Jobs Act reform), interventions designed to facilitate maternity and conciliation life-job will be monitored in time, when they will become law, without omitting that some of these interventions, as in the case of the extension of parental leave valid till December 2015, are now temporary.

As women of trades union organization we are convinced that there are many things that need to be done, especially in the persisting circumstance of the economic crisis that has downsized the centrality of the equal opportunities topic, determining thus a setback in the growth of female occupation and equality between men and women. Access to the job market is still hard for women and there are still numerous economic, family and cultural obstacles that impede full realization of the “Beijing” principles of women empowerment and mainstreaming.

The “Report” lacks an objective analysis of the consequences of the economic crisis, that is, of the real causes of women’s poor participation in the job market which are barely outlined. It seems contradictory to point out as occupational growth, only foreign manpower growth with care assistance jobs, ignoring that, in many cases, they are underpaid, scarcely qualified and excluded from legal protection, as it is stressed also by part-time jobs increase put forward as flexibility opportunity given to workers in order to conciliate family-job omitting that this mode, often involuntary, becomes synonym with work instability and economic discrimination with consequences on women’s career and pension check, that entail a real gap, one of the highest in Europe.

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