Tuesday, 20 May 2014

What has Europe done for women?

I am a firm believer in strength being achieved through associational links. In a world where there is increasing integration in terms of money flows, human mobility and an increasing need for governments to link up in order to face the challenges of the 21st century, like fighting terrorism, I don't think that any country can stand alone. While the EU deals with many aspects of supranational governance issues what is of prime interest to me is what it offers women. 

Gender issues have always figured in the European Union's social policy right back from when the first treaty was signed in 1957 - The Treaty of Rome- which recognised the importance of equal pay between men and women. Since 2010 gender equality has gained even more prominence because it now sits as a policy issue within the newly created 'Justice' department in the European Commission. Specifically, this new department looks at equal economic independence for women and men, equal pay for work of equal value, equality in decision making, ending gender based violence and promoting gender equality beyond the EU. 

Of particular interest is the strategy that the Commission has published titled: 'Strategy for Equality between Men and Women 2010-2015'. In the 2013 mid year review of this strategy the UK, for example, is reported as being actively involved in promoting full-time, flexible and affordable childcare services. There are other notable UK successes in the report. Another report, 'Violence Against Women in the European Union', gave a voice to many women in the UK who suffer from violence as an everyday experience. 

The collective work that the European Union does for gender equality is a positive because it provides a critical mass of pressure, recommendations and legislation that bear down on national governments. Their reports are invaluable in lending credence to women's experiences. Contrary to popular belief, EU membership doesn't cost us much, either. Our annual budget contribution, after taking account of money transferred back to the UK, is £8.3bn. That's around half a per cent of our GDP, or £130 per person (Source: BBC).  

I am all for any association/organisation that trumps equality for women in every sphere of life. 

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