Employment is the backbone of the European social economy. However, gender inequalities prevent the EU to reach its full potential and embrace a sustainable future because women and men do not benefit from the same opportunities. Maternity leaves and family responsibilities are the main barriers that explain women’s partial or total disengagement from the labour market. Besides, the lack of quality and affordable solutions limits the impact of the work-life balance directive and strengthens gender stereotypes.
Along with the proposals included in the Gender equality Strategy 2020-2025 and the European pillar of social rights Action Plan, the EU needs to support the development of Personal and Household Services (PHS) that allow women to outsource some of the domestic and family tasks. In fact, giving them the choice to work or stay home should be the first step towards successful welfare-state’s models. Some Member States such has Belgium and France have already improved the share of female employment by implementing people-oriented policies that empower women while providing them with access to affordable solutions.
Considering the economic and cultural discrepancies observed between Member States, only a global and non-binding approach can guarantee the development of Personal and household services that meet women’s needs throughout the EU. On this International Women’s Day 2021, three influent women share their views on the role that the PHS sector can play to support gender equality in Europe. Here’s what they had to say 👇
“The PHS sector strives to support gender equality in Europe by helping households with childcare, assistance to the elderly and persons with disabilities and non-care activities. According to the data 81% of women provide care at home, while only 48% of men, on a daily basis. We need to recognize the complexity of these care jobs and better compensate their value. The one action I would like the EU to take to guarantee gender equality is to increase the availability, the affordability, and the quality-of-care services.” claims Christa Schweng, EESC’s President.
“The PHS sector supports gender equality when the work that is done in the households is not only on paper but really paid. The EU can foster women access to the labour market by ensuring that good jobs, with social security can come out of this sector. Personal and Household Services can become a job motor for both women and men.” states Maria Noichl, Member of the European Parliament.
At the European Women’s Lobby, we urgently call for a Care Deal for Europe to include all aspects including better pay and working conditions, protection of women domestic workers, investment in the care economy including the PHS sector, and equal share of care between women and men.
“In the PHS sector women employ women. Giving women access to affordable and efficient solutions allow them to deal with work-life balance. Therefore, I would like the EU to guarantee social protection to PHS workers by recognizing millions of jobs. The EU also needs to encourage Member States developing the sector to tackle future demographic issues.” says Marie-Beatrice Levaux, EFFE’s President.