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Gender equality and employment in the European Union

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Women in labour market.
  3. Balancing work and family life.
    1. Why is there a need for reconciliation?
    2. The different factors and determinants.
  4. Gender pay gap and decision-making position.
    1. The persistent gender pay gap.
    2. Decision-making positions.
  5. Comparative approach.
    1. Flexicuriti in denmark.
    2. Improvement in France.
    3. Italy lagging behind.
  6. Solution, policies and commision's recommendations.
    1. The role of best practices and benchmarks.
    2. Lisbon strategy and the commision agenda.
  7. Conclusion.
  8. Bibliography.

Gender equality is among the fundamental principles and the common values of the European Union. In the 2nd Article of the Treaty of the European Community, it is even mentioned as a ?task? to perform for the Community, and again in Article 3(2) TEC. But two questions already appear: what can the European Community do exactly? And is the task performed well, is the goal achieved? Equality between men and women can concern several fields, but we shall focus here on the working conditions and incentives to work for women, in other words gender equality at work. Why is it a topic very much tackled during the recent years? The Lisbon Summit in 2000 underlined the question of women labour force, as a source of growth that the EU strongly needs, as a purpose in itself, but also in order to achieve other economic goals like full employment or European competitiveness in the world. The year 2007 is for the European Commission the ?European Year of equal opportunities?. In this framework many surveys have been made and the Commission itself has broadly and deeply stated on the situation of women and employment in the EU. When studying the issue of gender equality at work, one would not avoid dealing with other issues as reconciliation of family and work life and family policies in general, but also the questions of gender pay gap or women and their access to top-management positions. The challenges faced by women are very well summed up in the Commission's ?Road map for equality between men and women 2006-20101?: ?Many women have attained the highest levels of education, entered the labour market and become important players in public life.

[...] Depending on the level and the quantity of measures favouring gender equality in the various countries, it can be concluded that there is a positive relationship between fertility rate and employment rate when those measures taken (Commission, September 2005). The best example remains Denmark, with the third best birth rate in Europe and the best rate of women in participating to the labour market (more than 70 France, that very recently hit the jackpot and took the lead of the EU with two children per woman, also knows an employment rate for women lower than, but not far from the Lisbon target. [...]

[...] Gender pay gap and few top positions taken by women can often go against even the strongest ambitions Gender pay gap and decision-making positions The persistent gender pay gap The persistent gender pay gap is regularly pointed at by the European Commission, as equal pay is among the fundamental principles (Article-141 EC Treaty), interpreted broadly by the European Court of Justice and integrated in the European legislation since the mid-1970s. Although women are outperforming men in education achievement and boosting EU employment rate, they are still earning on average less than men, even on average in the private sector, for every hour worked. [...]

[...] Bibliography Book: OECD, OECD Employment Outlook 2006 Edition: Boosting Jobs and Incomes, Volume European institutions documents: European Commission, Women driving EU job growth but still face barriers to equality, IP/07/295, Brussels European Commission, Report on equality between women and men 2007, Communication, Brussels European Commission, Legal aspects of the gender pay gap, DG Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, February 2007. European Commission, Bulletin legal issues in Gender Equality, DG Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, January 2007. European Commission, Reconciliation of professional and private life: exchange of good practices, DG Employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, December 2006. [...]

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