Valencia, Comunitat Valenciana (E), 22 September 2010
“It is important to avoid the recession being used, as is already the case in some Member States, as an argument for scaling back gender equality measures,” said Monica Carlsson, President of the AER Standing Committee on Equal Opportunities (SCEO), during a seminar on ‘Women and social policies at times of economic crisis’, which was jointly organized with the Comunidat Valenciana (E).
Regions can be innovative as well when it comes to social policies. The Comunidad Valenciana’s new Law on the Protection of Maternity, which acknowledges the unborn child as a member of the family, offers pragmatic, financial and social support for pregnant women. Family benefits, fiscal advantages, priority access to safe and affordable housing or school places are for instance offered as soon as the pregnancy is medically certified.
An international panel of specialists shared their insight on how the current economic crisis affects social policies (and, in particular, those concerning women) in European Regions. Participating regions confirmed that, as a result of the current crisis, the poor are getting poorer and the number of people living in poverty has increased. Women are particularly hard hit: female unemployment can be expected to rise even more as public sector budget cuts are implemented, since women are disproportionately employed in education, health and social services. In response, the SCEO members do not simply call for more benefits for women, but instead propose to focus on combating stereotypes in all walks and at all stages of life and empowering women to make the education, family and employment choices that are right for them.
As the financial crisis was literally man-made by Golden Boys in Wall Street, SCEO decided to encourage European Regions to take effective steps, notably through legislation, to encourage gender balance in corporate and political positions of responsibility, including on boards of directors, and in local and regional public institutions, administrations and organizations which should set an example. Binding targets are of course needed to ensure the equal representation of women and men. “We need to promote financial literacy among girls and women!” President Carlsson added. “We all agree that we need to get more women involved at all levels of decision-making, but I believe it is especially true in the areas of finance and budgeting, where they are by far under-represented.”
The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 270 regions from 33 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
Press & Communications Officer
+33 3 88 22 74 49
Standing Committee on Equal Opportunities
+32 2 421 85 12
Senior Policy Coordinator - Committee ‘Social Policy and Public Health’
+32 2 421 87 57