In order to balance work and family, especially care responsibilities, women within several European countries chose part-time work in greatest number compared to men. Still, part-time work does not offer the same level of work stability, career opportunities and income like full time employment and it has effects on pensions and other social security rights. These all affect women strongly compared to men and have an effect on their life status for later age periods. Therefore, part-time work should not be considered as the optimal policy solution for a work life balance promotion.
The 1996 EU Directive on Parental Leave was designed to minimise the conflict between work and family responsibilities, for both women and men. It also aimed at offering support to women’s participation in the labour market. In 2010, new changes were brought to the Directive in order to assure a better gender equality and non-discrimination principle. EU Member States have to adjust their national policies and actions to the Directive as the legal framework around this policy differs across Europe. For example, where parental leave is transferable, or poorly paid, it is still the women taking care of the children. Employers may therefore favour male recruits as they are less likely to incur replacement costs.
Although all European Member States are addressing the issue of reconciliation policies and are seeking success such as in Sweden, Denmark and Finland where fathers’ participation in parental leave is representing 20%, great disparity remains.
EIGE is a European agency which supports the EU and its Member States in their efforts to promote gender equality, to fight discrimination based on sex and to raise awareness about gender equality issues. On the 17 of May 2011 EIGE held one of a series of Journalist and Media Stakeholder Workshop, at the Grand Hotel Tonic, Marseille, France. The purpose and aim are to develop and share best practice in communicating gender equality issues and to increase awareness and understanding of these issues, within the European Union.
• The European Institute for Gender Equality: http://eige.europa.eu/
• The Beijing Platform for Action: http://www.un.org/
• The EU’s Report on the progress to the United Nations Economic Commission in Europe: http://live.unece.org/
• EIGE's article on Reconciliation (April, 2011): http://www.eige.europa.eu/
If you’d like more information about this topic or schedule an interview with Jolanta Reingarde, Senior Researcher, please contact her by email on Jolanta.Reingarde@
EIGE European Institute for Gender Equality,
Švitrigailos 11M LT-03228 vilnius Lithuania
Tel.: +370 5 239 4140
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