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European Commission
On 2 July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was nominated by the European Council to the position of President of the European Commission; she will be the first women and the first German since Walter Hallstein
Equal opportunities and access to the labour market
1. Education, training and life-long learning Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market. 2. Gender equality Equality of treatment and opportunities between women and men must be ensured and fostered in all areas, including regarding participation in the labour market, terms and conditions of employment and career progression. Women and men have the right to equal pay for work of equal value.
The gender pay gap in the EU and the European Pillar of #SocialRights
1. The gender pay gap in the EU is 16.2%, that’s 16.2% higher than it should be! Gender equality is the second key principle of the European Pillar of #SocialRights for a reason 2. The European Pillar of #SocialRights supports the right to equal treatment and opportunities regarding employment, social protection, education, and access to goods and services available to the public. Something NCW Malta has supported since its creation!
Gender Equality in the Media Sector
This study was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. It examines key elements of the European policy agenda pertaining to gender equality in the media sector. It also reviews existing research on women's representation within media content and the media workforce. The study provides analysis of actions to promote gender equality in the media at both EU and Member State levels. Finally, it presents case studies of gender equality in the media sector in four Member States: Austria, Malta, Sweden, and the UK.
Empowering women and girls in media and ICT
On the occasion of the International Women's Day, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is holding an inter-parliamentary committee meeting on empowering women and girls in media and ICT. The meeting, which will bring together EU institutional representatives, members of EU national parliaments, experts and stakeholders, will take place on 08 March 2018. The presentation and debates will deal with the topics of women shaping media, empowering women and girls through digital inclusion and women’s movements and advancing equality in the digital age.
Digital healthcare / health insurance
In the view of the EESC, given the digital revolution in the field of health, it is vital to maintain and promote a health insurance system which serves the needs of everyone, and is solidarity-based, inclusive and non-discriminatory. Inclusion and fair access for all to good quality health services (digital or otherwise) and commitment to these are in fact prerequisites for universal health coverage.
Gender equality in European labour markets
In order to improve gender equality in labour markets, the EESC considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to adequate policies, measures and EU funding programmes for improving equality between women and men, thus fostering "more equal economic independence of women and men" . This would also contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Services to the family
Developing services in private homes in order to achieve a better work-life balance Every family has a home and clothes to maintain, meals to prepare, children to care for, elderly parents or ill or disabled family members who need help. Women often have to work part-time in order to carry out these tasks, missing out on the career for which they have trained or on time they would use for training.
Women and girls digital gender gap
This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the FEMM Committee, attempts to reveal the links between the different factors (access, skills, socio-economic and cultural), which prevent women from having equal access to digital technology. It then suggests ways of dealing with online and offline inequalities to the effect of closing the digital gender gap and improving women’s and girls’ digital inclusion and future technology-related career paths.
Plastics, human health and environmental impacts: The road ahead
Plastics have been with us for more than a century, and by now they’re everywhere, for good and for ill. Plastic containers and coatings help keep food fresh, but they can also leave behind neurotoxins such as BPA in the human body. PVC is used for everything from pipes and flooring to furniture and clothes, but it contains compounds called phthalates that have been implicated in male reproductive disorders. Studies have also shown that childhood exposure to environmental pollutants can have significant negative effects later in life, including reduced labor force participation and even earnings.
European Commission aims to significantly reduce the gender pay gap
The European Commission plans to use a series of measures aimed at significantly reducing the pay gap between men and women over the next five years. The average gender pay gap in the EU currently stands at 18%. To lower this rate, the Commission plans to raise awareness among employers, encourage initiatives to promote gender equality and support the development of tools to measure the gender pay gap.
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019
NCW Annual General Meeting 2019 The Annual General Meeting of the National Council of Women was held on Saturday 26th January 2019, at The Victoria Hotel, Sliema. President Mary Gaerty spoke about the work which the Council has embarked on during 2018. This included pensions, education, violence against women, work and entrepreneurship, work life balance and the challenges faced by women on a daily basis. She also highlighted the fact that the National Council of Women is looking ahead at the constant changes
Work-life Balance
Better work-life balance for EU citizens: Presidency reaches provisional agreement with the European Parliament
The National Council of Women supports the Act to provide protection for human embryos
NCW has always advocated for legislation of alternative IVF treatment not least because of the sensitivity and the consequences for both parents and society if it had to remain unregulated. NCW believes that IVF treatment should be for heterosexuals within a stable family environment The Council has always supported the protection of embryos as the first cell of a human life and, with the development of alternative treatment over the past years this has become possible successfully.
Women on Boards: Vice-President Viviane Reding meets with leaders of Europe's business schools and i
Today, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding met with European Industry Associations, European Business Schools and Senior Executive Women to discuss progress being made on improving the gender balance in company boardrooms.
UfM adopts new project to support women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean
A project aimed at developing women’s empowerment in the Mediterranean through the development of effective field projects and the setting up of networks and platforms, was adopted by Senior Officials of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) at a meeting held last month.


Investing in Women
Presentation by Helga Ellul CEO Playmobil, President, Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, NCW Vice-President
4th Congress for Women Organisations Representatives from the Eight Small States of Europe
 Hon Minister/s   Ladies and Gentlemen
 For me, to invest in Women is not a question but a must.  In fact, the importance of Investing in Women cannot be overstated if we want to advance in economic growth.   Women will and have to be a part of that growth.  There has been considerable progress but there is still a wealth of untapped potential in women. Today still, in virtually all parts of the world, the gender gap remains.
a few facts:As widespread and uncontroversial as the case for women’s economic empowerment has become, today women own only one percent of the world’s wealth, have only a 10 percent share in global income, and occupy just 14 percent of leadership positions in the private and public sector. And, while women produce half of the world’s food, they own a mere one percent of its land.
 Investing in women is called by the World Bank “smart economics” and research shows that economic growth for women has an important multiplier effect. Women are more likely to share their economic gains with their families and communities at large. I believe this Investment in women is just smart business. Equipping women from all backgrounds with the education, skills and support systems necessary to be successful managers, business leaders and entrepreneurs is one of the most important means to ensuring economic growth.
 
Countries that have achieved the highest levels of gender equality, have profited not just in terms of greater social justice and stability, but also in terms of their economic growth and competitiveness. To improve the lot of humanity we need to begin by acknowledging that progress for women is progress for all.
 
However, when we talk about equality between men and women it is important to talk about flexicurity strategies.  If we look at the EU perspective, women have a vital role to play to deal with change effectively and confront Europe's demographic challenge.  Just take the eight million jobs that have been created in the EU since the launch of the EU's Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs in 2000, 6 million of these have been taken by women. This is perhaps one of the greatest contributions this strategy has so far achieved. Still women face many barriers to realise their full potential. Even though the number of women completing higher education now exceeds men (even here in Malta) their employment rate remains 15% lower than men's and they continue to face a pay gap of 15%.  The increase in female employment is mainly in jobs which are already dominated by women and so they are generally less well paid, and women face greater difficulties in reaching decision-making positions, the so-called Glass Ceiling.
 
What are the barriers?  If we look at the employment rate for women aged 20-49 it falls by 15 % when they have a child, while that of men increases by 6 %.  Another point is that women are more engaged into part-time work, in the region of 30% compared to 8% men.  These differences are mainly due to the lack of childcare provision, financial factors, career setbacks, and finding a work life balance whilst raising a family.
 
Looking at countries where women participate actively in all aspects of economic, social and political life, one notices that well established work-home reconciliation policies are the norm. The most important three areas are financial support to cover family related costs, high quality care services for children and dependant older people, and flexible working hours with appropriate leave arrangements.
If we do not find the right policies,  then what chance does a woman have of working and becoming economically independent if the key issue of reconciling professional, private and family life always has to be resolved by concessions on her part.
 
The situation in Malta.  The fact is that in Malta we are quite below the European Average of women participating in the labour market.  Slight increases have been noticed in the participation of women in the labour market recently.  The report from the EU Commission ranks Malta 25th out of the 27 EU member states when it comes to providing child care facilities.  Not only do we need to increase such facilities but to provide them also in summer time and on a round the clock basis to assist shift workers.
 It is still part of the fabric of Maltese culture that the role of men and women are stereo typed.  The men being the bread winner and the women taking care of the family and home.  In relation to this, a recent study included in the 2010 Pre-Budget Document reveals that women with low or medium levels of education earn around 15 per cent less than men.  In absolute terms, the difference equates to around €2,000.  In the case of people with a higher level of education, the percentage difference between men and women is above 20% - equivalent to around €5000.
 
Besides, date for Malta shows that men - across varying education levels - enjoy an upward growth in income throughout their working lives pattern of  growth. The trend in gross annual salaries for women appears much more stagnant.  This applies both to women with low and higher levels of education.
 
It is this traditional family model which has held back highly skilled females from embracing a career plus a family.  For that to accelerate, a change of mind has to be set.  This can already be seen in the younger generation – that a family is a partnership, where both partners can grow career wise, where finances are settled together and children’s parental duties are shared by both
What we need to do. We need to encourage our young generation, male and female to enter into new family responsibility as a single family unit.  We need to encourage them to achieve the right family balance together and that there is no such thing as the husband’s and wife’s sole responsibility.  Building a family,  bringing children to the world and raising them to high standards is a joint responsibility of both parents.  It does not mean the father carries on with his working life irrespective and the mother must carry the lion’s share of duties and responsibilities.  We have already progressed in this regard but in order to develop further we need to support young couples  by ensuring that  the necessary facilities and appropriate structures are well in place such as child care facilities as well as caring for older family members.
We need to encourage employers that flexibility and providing innovative work arrangements can be beneficial to the business as well as the worker.  Best practice examples in Corporate Social Responsibility across Europe and in Malta show how  entrepreneurs have already  seen the benefits from new work patterns such as teleworking, job sharing or generally more flexible working conditions. 
The one word you are hearing right now is “flexibility”.  But this is necessary if you want to retain women in today’s workforce.   We cannot afford to lose the potential of 60% of women who are still away from the labour market.   We have talked about these issues time and time again and we need more actions.
But again I cannot but stress more that the base of equality has to start in the concept of an equal partnership between husband and wife.  Sharing –  “for better and for worse” – is, after all, at the core of what  marriage stands for.
Conclusion
I have used the term glass ceiling earlier on in relation to women’s chances of career progression.  To my mind, and in line with what I have expanded upon throughout this contribution there is another important application for this term. 
The country faces a glass ceiling in terms of its economic expansion potential UNLESS women are given full encouragement to contribute to the economy - this holds true even at the global level.  As I explained, making opportunities equally available for both sexes (on paper) is not enough.  We need to ensure that the right frameworks are in place to enable women with family responsibilities to truly be in a position to consider such demanding positions.  If we manage to embrace this notion and take active measures to succeed, our country will be more productive and technically more competent.  Ultimately, we will be all better off

 

 

 

 

 
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