Policies and strategies for the achievement of equality between men and women, after some years of strong slowdown due to economic and financial crisis, have become a priority issue again for a Europe called to redesign the framework of its future strategy for the period 2016-2020. A much awaited return which is also the result of continuous reminders of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and of all its affiliated organizations, including the CISL syndicate, requesting a more resolute and determined approach to the question.
Women’s situation, despite the achievement of important goals over the years, is still characterized by discrimination and gaps, both in society and on the labor market, and seems to be a common denominator between all EU Member States. This is the reason why the European Commission, before structuring a new action plan, has decided to involve the different subjects of the member states who engage with the issue of equal opportunities for men and women, together with individual citizens, and it has done so between April and July through a public consultation on-line, in which we have actively participated as the National Co-ordination Women on different levels and through other additional channels, with the purpose of collecting opinions and identifying priorities that will become part of the next strategy.
Those last days have been published the main results of this consultation that has collected almost 5000 responses in all European countries. Contributions have been given by trade and industrial unions (1408) and by individual citizens (3488). Almost all of the answers received from the citizens were coherent with those of the organizations. Most of the responses (93.9%) consider still valid, or partially valid, the priorities of the previous plan 2010-2015, because previous goals were not fully achieved.
The results have provided, once again, very homogeneous indications, stressing that at the center of everyone’s interests there are still the same old questions: achieving equal pay for equal work; an increase in the number of women in top positions both in politics and business; eliminating prejudices and stereotypes based on gender; preventing and contrasting violence against women; promoting better balancing of the responsibilities for family care between men and women. Besides, one of the most suggested priorities was the adoption by the European Commission of an “autonomous” political management in the area of gender equality for the years 2016-2020.
More specifically, with regard to the labor market, the survey confirmed what we, those from CISL, have been pointing out for a long time now, that is, the need to ease conciliation between work and family while promoting greater sharing of responsibility for family care between men and women, starting from the introduction of a mandatory leave for fathers and from making the services of public assistance more accessible, affordable, and qualified. These opinions having been collected, now it is up to the European Commission to translate them into effective and successful actions, coordinating their implementation in the different member states in order to promote, this time, a more accurate realization of the fixed goals and reasons, and think in new terms and on the basis of past experiences, about further measures to be undertaken in the post-2020 period.