Gender equality in the labour market: challenges in the EU after 2010
In 2010 we find ourselves in a crucial period for gender equality where steps have been made in raising the profile of equality between women and men within the framework of the Employment Strategy yet the economic downturn presents a challenge to progress made. This report presents an analysis of the employment situation from a gender perspective. We have been fortunate to be able to rely on the expert assessment of members of the EGGE network on the situation in their own country and in synthesising this work we draw heavily on their views and opinions. The information in this report is rich and detailed and, in reviewing both quantitative trends in key employment measures and the evolution of policy, we have tried to synthesise the key Europe-wide issues while also capturing some of the particularities at the Member State level.
The impact of the crisis is consistent with previous crises, in that men suffer first because of their concentration in traded sectors and then women secondly when demand falls in consumer services and when cuts are made in public spending. However, unlike in previous crises, and thanks to their greater share of employment, women have also been hit in the first wave of this crisis – albeit to a lesser extent than men – and will be hit again as public spending is cut. The segregated nature of employment means that the crisis has a gendered impact on the labour markets for men and women, affecting the timing and nature of the repercussions.
The gendered impact of the recession underlines why it is important to keep gender equality central to responses at both the European and Member State level since losing sight of equality issues risks undermining EU long-term strategic goals. Gender mainstreaming in labour market analyses and policy reactions can be considered an important tool in this time of crisis for effective responses to help both men and women on European labour markets. Gender equality on the labour market is a key component for the successful implementation of the Lisbon Strategy and, as the Swedish Presidency of the EU highlighted, future economic growth.
The clearest impact of the economic downturn on the labour market is in rising unemployment rates and falling employment rates. For men and women there have been employment rate declines in nearly all Member States – there were three Member States where female employment rates rose while they fell for men and one Member State where the opposite was the case.