More progress in gender equality needed
A study commissioned by the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI) analysed the policies that have been developed at European level, and particularly at national level, to promote the employment of women. According to the authors, the gender dimension of employment policies at both European and national levels is a relatively recent development, which coincided with the promotion of gender equality indirectly, through special measures designed to promote female employment. The study was first published in February 2005 by KETHI.
Established in 1994, the Research Centre for Gender Equality (Κέντρο Ερευνών για Θέματα Ισότητας, KETHI) is managed and funded by the General Secretariat for Equality, attached to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralisation (Υπουργείο Εσωτερικών, Δημόσιας Διοίκησης και Αποκέντρωσης, YPES). A key area of development in terms of KETHI’s activities concerns social research on gender equality issues and the promotion of women in all areas of political, economic and social life. In February 2005, KEITHI published a study analysing the policies developed at both European and national levels directed at women’s employment issues.
Need for gender equality measures
According to the authors of the study, the policies that have been developed at European and national levels regarding women’s employment issues demonstrate that, although progress has been made with regard to gender equality, large disparities still exist in employment and unemployment. Thus, it is becoming apparent that even though Greece has adopted a series of measures aimed at boosting women’s employability and at reconciling family and working life, reaching the goal of gender equality in employment remains a challenge.
In addition to measures aimed at fulfilling the criteria of the Lisbon Strategy, Greece has adopted certain initiatives designed to increase women’s participation in employment. The most important of these initiatives is the National Action Programme for Employment, along with various other actions that aim to boost employment participation. These actions are generally funded to the advantage of women at a ratio of 60% to 40% for women.
According to the Lisbon Strategy’s goals for Greece, the level of female employment should have risen to 57% of the female working age population by 2005 and to 60% by 2010. However, in reality, this rate reached only 46.8% of the female working age population in 2005 and 48.2% in 2006. Although some progress has been made in the rate of female employment, Greece still has one of the largest gender gaps in its employment rate when compared with other EU Member States. In 2006, this gap reach 28.2 percentage points, with an employment rate of 48.2% for women compared with 76.4% for men.
The study in question is based exclusively on the analysis of relevant bibliographical information and respective empirical research – in other words, on data that have already been published.
The authors of the study argue that women’s opportunities for labour market participation still remain largely unexploited. The study also notes that active labour market policy programmes have not been adequately supported in terms of their adequacy and effectiveness.
The authors make a number of proposals for tackling the issue:
- reinforcing national mechanisms for gender equality;
- boosting the employment rate of female immigrants and recognising the important role that they play in the integration process;
- increasing the number of care centres for children and other dependent persons, as well as reinforcing the strategy facilitating the reconciliation of personal and working life, by ensuring that men participate to the same extent as women in family life;
- transferring information, knowledge, research findings and experience regarding the adoption and implementation of tools for the design of employment policies;
- encouraging public authorities to adopt special schemes and programmes aimed at enhancing equality at work, including positive measures for combining family and working life.
The findings of the study confirm much of the research already conducted on the effectiveness of policies directed at gender equality in employment. Although a substantial improvement has been achieved in a number of sectors, the measures being implemented are still only partial and fragmentary. As a result, women continue to lag behind men, not only in employment but also in terms of entrepreneurship. This gap is reflected not just in quantitative data, but also in qualitative aspects, for example with regard to the type of employment: in particular, a high percentage of part-time employment is evident among women, with limited prospects for financial or occupational advancement.
The complete study is available on the KETHI website at www.kethi.gr (English version also available)
Stathis Tikos, Institute of Greek General Confederation of Labour (INE/GSEE)