Gender Equality and the economic independence of women, on the agenda of the second day of the EPSCO meeting in Bucharest

Met dank overgenomen van Roemeens voorzitterschap Europese Unie 1e helft 2019 (Roemeens voorzitterschap) i, gepubliceerd op donderdag 11 april 2019.

Romania intends to continue the dialogue for a new EU Strategy on gender equality and to make progress in the negotiations,” the Minister of Labour and Social Justice, Marius Budai, stated at the opening of the last day of the informal meeting of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), held at the Palace of Parliament, where Employment and Social Affairs Ministers representing the Member States held talks about “Gender mainstreaming within the EU’s social dimension post 2020″.

Today, Minister Marius Budăi chaired, for the second consecutive day, the first informal EPSCO meeting which was organized by our country in the context of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In the opening of his speech, Marius Budăi stated that “EU policy on gender equality after 2019 should be strengthened, and, by promoting the fundamental values enshrined in the European acquis, it should contribute to the implementation of EU international commitments such as the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action and the Istanbul Convention”.

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Justice, gender equality and economic independence of women are essential for a sustainable economic growth, therefore it is important, the minister underlined, to provide a regulatory framework through which women should benefit from real economic independence, enabling them to participate fully and responsibly in the social and family life, in the decision-making process, in all areas and at all levels.

The progress registered at a European level towards equality between women and men was, in his opinion, insufficient due to a number of obstacles still existing in some areas.

This fact is also confirmed by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), which shows that progress in this direction in the EU Member States remains slow. From 62 points in 2005, the gender equality index has risen to, for example, 65 points in 2012 and 66.2 points in 2015.

From this perspective, I believe that gender equality must be set as a political priority of the European Union and it must ensure the effective implementation of the policies and legislation in the field,” the Romanian official said.

At the end of the two-day debates, the participants from the Palace of Parliament concluded that ensuring equal opportunities for women and men is an international and European goal which needs to be put into practice by an urgent prioritization in all policy areas and that a dual approach is needed to combine the inclusion of the gender perspective in all policies with targeted specific actions.

Moreover, in order to ensure a real balance between work and family life, the Ministers consider it necessary to close the gender pay gap, but also to encourage the sharing of domestic and caring responsibilities with the help of a series of complementary measures, such as paid or unpaid leave for carers of family members, flexible working arrangements for both women and men, as well as access to quality care and affordable care services.

Equality between men and women is an essential part of EU law, a fundamental value and one of the objectives of the European Union. The EU Commission’s commitments in this area include the Women’s Charter (2010), the Strategy for Equality between Women and Men (2010-2015) and the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2019.

In the context of gender equality, the topic discussed today has not been addressed in an EPSCO Council since 2015. The Labour Ministers present in Bucharest decided that this subject should be mainstreamed into the EU Agenda post-2020.