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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.

NCW recommendations on a European Workforce for Health:
Pre-Budget 2011

Publication by the European Commission of the Green Paper on the European workforce for health. Demographic change and its impact on the workforce and workload in the healthcare sector are described by the Green Paper.

Overview
EU health systems have to deal with constantly increasing demands on health services, respond to changing health needs and be prepared for major public health crises. At the same time, there is a high level of expectations with regard to the quality of healthcare services. The Green Paper concentrates on nine key areas:
• Demography
• Public Health Capacity
• Training
• Managing mobility of health workers within the EU
• Global Migration of Health Workers
• Data to support decision-making
• The impact of new technology: improving the efficiency of the health workforce
• Strengthening the principle of self-employment
• Cohesion policy.

In the Green Paper, the European Commission sets out key questions relating to the problems and challenges of healthcare provision so as to encourage discussion. These key questions include:
• the ageing population;
• new technologies;
• the need for healthcare services to be more accessible;
• service quality and, with that, more cost-intensive treatments;
• the outbreak and potential of epidemic diseases, and
• local availability of healthcare

Definition of "Healthcare workers": all those working in the healthcare sector who provide services in patient care and welfare, nursing care, social and welfare services, and all those belonging to specialised professions. Preventive and curative healthcare both have an economic component. The healthcare sector requires trained and experienced staff with recognised qualifications. These make up a significant part of the knowledge society

Recommendations
• Measures should be taken to make jobs in the health care sector more attractive to young people, so that later on, more of them enter the healthcare professions or look for jobs in the sector. If more young people, and more men, are to be encouraged to choose careers in healthcare, nursing care and social care, such employment must be made more attractive through better pay and working conditions throughout the whole of their career.
• Sufficient staffing capacity should be created in health care systems to meet health care needs, boost health care, health promotion and disease prevention.
• The use of new technologies in healthcare is to be encouraged where these reduce the workload of healthcare staff, improve the quality of care and support patients. The EESC is aware that this may lead to a re-examination of how the division of tasks among health care staff works in practice.
• Priority should be given to the key role of social standards in ensuring a high quality of patient care and patient safety, and is unequivocally opposed to any attempt to undermine these (no race to the bottom).
• Emphasis should be put on the key part the professions play in the health care sector, alongside hospitals and publicly-run health services, since it is in large part through these professionals that personal treatment and care can be secured in an environment of competence and safety.
• However caution is needed in the Green Paper proposal to encourage healthcare workers to practice as self-employed persons, especially in view of the increasing trend towards apparent self-employment where this is problematic for the particular activity concerned (e.g. nursing and care of the elderly).
• The discussion about a new division of tasks in healthcare with the aim of replacing treatment by qualified staff with cheaper alternatives needs to be carefully addressed. Structural considerations regarding the division of tasks among the healthcare professions should be focused on clinical need, skill levels and the needs of patients.
• Healthcare institutions and their staff provide services of general interest and that more use should therefore be made of the Structural Funds for their training. It is vital to ensure conditions which can enable healthcare professionals to participate in continuous training programmes, thereby ensuring they can extend the breadth and depth of their skills, and also helping to remedy the under-provision of healthcare in structurally weak regions.
• Priority should be given to the outstanding role the social partners and social dialogue in determining pay, working conditions and skills for healthcare workers.
• The contribution of social professions who play a key role in patient welfare and care and thus have a significant role in healthcare should be considered and acknowledged

NCW has noted that the proportion of women working in the health care sector has risen over the last few years, and that their number is very likely to increase further and therefore suggests measures to make it easier to reconcile professional, family and private life in order to secure the supply of health service employees and skilled workers in the sector.

This applies across the board. Equal treatment is necessary to ensure gender equality in accordance with the Equal Treatment Directives and also to encourage more men to go and work in the various parts of the healthcare sector. This would include measures to help reconcile work and family life, recognising skills used and the onerous nature of the work involved, and to help women stay in employment and support those re-entering the labour market after extended periods looking after families

Data to support decision-making
It is important for national statistics to be comparable across Europe. One obstacle is the fact that some health care professions are classified differently in the various Member States. Distinctive national features relating to competence and descriptions of healthcare professions should not be concealed for the sake of achieving uniform indicators. Corresponding statistics be compiled on health professions in Europe and on migration between states.

In general terms, data should be improved by establishing a data register. The monitoring of health care professions referred to in the Green Paper could be tied in with other EU projects, such as steps to promote health care information systems and to improve the communication between national registers – where these exist – for all professions.

The impact of new technology: improving the efficiency of the health workforce
The EESC suggests that research look into whether new technologies can, in the interests of the workforce, be used together with new opportunities for treatment, tied in with electronic communications networks and provided comprehensively in very remote areas, including arrangements for self-diagnosis and patient participation

Before new technologies can be introduced:
• they need to be accepted by the medical professions.
• to secure such acceptance, those working in this domain must be involved in developing the e-health technology, to make sure that the electronic tools used in everyday practice can be used in a straightforward, safe manner.
• proper, optimal training of medical staff in the new technologies is essential if they are to be successfully introduced.
• the introduction of new technologies must be geared to the different national health systems. it could trigger a change in the national laws on medical accountability applying in every Member State.

Even during the financial crisis, Member States should still be willing to provide adequate funding for their health care systems (financial management), not least to ensure that there are adequate staff resources that can provide high-quality services. This also involves improving the working conditions of employees in this sector.


Grace Attard, NCW President

 
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