Charlene’s Bubble October 2019

Did you know?

Charlene LambertNext year, we will mark ‘Beijing +25’, which is shorthand for the 25th anniversary signing of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UN Women’s “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future”. This signing was a momentous occasion as a result of the campaign and demands for equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

25 years later, in preparation for the General Assembly that will be taking place in March at the UN in New York, the European Institute on Gender Equality (EIGE) – an autonomous body of the European Union established to strengthen gender equality across the EU – recently prepared a presentation for the Beijing+25 meeting preparations on the progress made in the EU. The presentation highlights areas such as the labour market, peaceful and inclusive societies, freedom from gender-based violence, stereotypes and stigma, and many more important topics.

I recently received a copy of the presentation, and would like to share some highlights with you that reflect on how we are doing.

Did you know, for example, that 7.7 million women in Europe, compared to 0.5 million men, are out of the labour market due to care responsibilities?  Or did you ever realized that 9 million women versus 0.6 million men work part time due to care responsibilities?

We know that as we move up the corporate ladder, there are fewer and fewer women in positions of management and on boards. This has been shown to be due in part to the fact that more women are working part-time, and because of this, they were not able to follow the standard career paths to occupy management positions. Part-time employment also has longer-term effects on women’s pensions, with more women than men living in poverty in their retirement years. The price to pay is high: in the EU, women’s pensions end up being 37% less than men’s.

Peaceful and inclusive societies
Furthermore, did you realize that there is a high rate of poverty among single mothers, Roma, migrants, and women with disabilities in Europe? Half of migrant women are at risk of poverty and are not in employment, and that 1/3rd of all EU households face financial difficulties in affording childcare

Approximately 1/5th of young migrant women are not in educational employment or training programmes. This is a huge loss for these women, their families, and for our societies and economies that needs to be rectified. These and other inequalities in the labour market have been shown to have negative impacts on women’s physical and mental health.

Freedom from gender-based violence, stereotypes and stigma
The #MeToo movement demonstrated the widespread nature of sexual harassment in the workplace, however did you know that, according to the report, women journalists, politicians, and minority rights activists often experience sexist cyber harassment? In addition, the number of beds in women’s shelters is only half of what is required, and here in the Netherlands, women and children in need are more and more being placed in hotels due to lack of available shelter space.

More information
You can download the PowerPoint presentation here. In addition to the Beijing +25 progress review, the EIGE has a wealth of information that might be interest to you. For example, you may also like to study their ‘Gender Sensitive communication tool kit’.

Of prime interest is the release on October 15th of their biannual report on Gender Equality in the European Union (watch this short introductory video).

This report is closely watched by national governments to see how they compare to other EU countries, and if progress is being made. Watch for this report! From this year on, it will be an annual report, each year with a special theme. This year’s topic is Work-life Balance, which is important also for women entrepreneurs.

As international women entrepreneurs, we know firsthand that it’s possible (though not always easy) to start and run our own businesses, thereby developing and contributing our own leadership, skills and know-how, earning a living and participating in our society. It’s important for us also to take a step back now and then and consider how we are doing in the bigger picture, and what more still needs to be done.  We will also be watching with great  interest for the upcoming EU Gender Equality report, as well as what happens next March in the UN regarding Beijing+25!