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Gender Equality to fight the crisis

The individuals and organisations signed below, supporting this manifesto, express our concerns

The current economic crisis evidences the failure of a model of non-sustainable economic growth, and at the same time provides an opportunity to reverse such a model. To achieve this, the contribution of all individuals is required, along with equitable planning, use, and distribution of resources. However, governments and international bodies are reacting in a way that conforms to an image of society which is no longer current, and which inhibits an appropriate response to the global emergency which we are facing.

In Europe, contrary to what some press headlines would suggest, the level of female unemployment continues to exceed that of male unemployment. Furthermore, women continue to be by far the majority in the most vulnerable categories of employment (temporary, part-time, underemployment); and unemployment (long-term, without previous employment, without unemployment benefits). Women’s incomes and pensions are much lower, and in some cases non-existent, in spite of the fact that overall women work more hours. Women’s poverty levels are much higher. In short, the situation of women is dramatic, given that as the effects of the economic crisis spread across all sectors, women are in the worst positions, and suffer its effects the most.

The media continually present statistics about the number of households in which all the economically active adults are unemployed; suggesting the idea of men as male heads of those families, with dependent women and children. This presentation masks the reality of the situation. The reality is that, in addition to men, there are as many women in all household types who wish to access employment and who are extremely well prepared to take it up.

Public services have been seriously affected by budget cuts in education, health, social services, and in the promotion of gender equality. At the same time, families are finding their economic resources increasingly reduced. All these factors specifically impact on women in two principal ways: as the majority of the population requiring assistance, and as those who struggle to make up the difference in resources now missing from the family budget.

The employment support measures are focused on the construction and car manufacturing industries, to supplement unemployment benefits to individuals affected by the downturn and to those who are already beneficiaries of unemployment allowances. However, there are no plans directed to areas of employment or unemployment among whom the most vulnerable workers are predominantly women.

In summary, resources available for situations which affect women are decreasing and where special measures are being made available, it has been to limit the impact of consequences which largely affect male employment. Although the rhetoric of combating gender-based violence continues, the resources for support services are increasingly limited, despite the likelihood of the economic crisis increasing levels of violence and also reducing the financial capacity of women to be able to escape violent situations. Equally, just as progress on crime prevention was being made, there is now a significant risk that this will be stalled.

The processes of legal reform with regard to joint /co-responsibility of care, including the extension of non-transferable paternity leave, have been stalled. At the same time, policies of leave to care at home are being given greater prominence, along with new proposals to open up new measures to encourage part-time working – predominantly affecting women.

The development of public services has not been prioritised in the current measures to tackle the crisis. However, the massive public investment, essential to creating employment and re-activating the economy, presents a unique opportunity to reconstruct social infrastructure; to create universal provision of early-years education, public childcare and public services to care for physically dependent persons; to improve health services, education, and social services; to promote sport and culture; and to improve environmental protection and stop climate change. Jobs can be created across all these sectors, and given that they are publicly funded, conditions to maximise their social utility can be demanded. A core requirement should be that all these projects promote gender equality, environmental sustainability and social cohesion, which currently they do not.

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  1. abril 19, 2009 en 10:43 am


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