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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.

 

Seven Common Myths about the Costs of Maternity Leave

The EWL invites policy makers to join European mothers in the real world!

MYTH ONE: "We cannot afford full-paid maternity leave, which would disproportionately affect small businesses and drive up wage costs, leading to more jobs being outsourced."

ü FACT: Only in three European countries - the UK, Germany and Malta - is maternity leave financed directly through employers rather than tax or social welfare systems, and two of these countries - Germany and the UK - have a recuperation scheme, which applies to both SMEs and large corporations. Incidentally, these are also countries notorious for their high gender pay gaps and low female employment rates compared to their European peers.

ü FACT: In all other EU member states, employers do not pay wages during maternity leave; social security systems do. While a worker is on maternity leave, employers save the cost of her salary, and can use that money to hire a replacement. This is as it should be: just as we collectively pay for caring for our seniors or building our schools, we should share the costs of maternity leave. 

ü FACT: When women are excluded from the job market, economies take a downturn; when women are further included, economies prosper. According to the European Commission, all EU member states could achieve double-digit economic growth as high as 35% in the UK, 40% in the Netherlands and 45% in Malta, by eliminating gender inequalities in the labour market.

MYTH TWO: "Implementing this Directive, particularly the full-pay provision, in the current economic crisis is irresponsible and will worsen the current recession."

ü FACT: The tendency to put profit over people and short-term cost-cutting over long-term growth is what got us into the current economic crisis in the first place. Women have contributed more to global economic growth than the emerging economies of China and India and will continue to be invaluable as male-dominated sectors like the automobile industry and construction take hits and the importance of services and care increases. Ensuring women are included and protected on the job market will reinvigorate the European economy and reap long-term benefits for economies and birth rates.

ü FACT: European governments spent trillions of euros in the last two years rescuing banks, car and construction companies; the rescue scheme for UK banks alone cost taxpayers up to £850 billion. This is exactly the right time to invest a comparably low amount of money to empower half of the current population - not to mention the next generation.

ü FACT: Pervading glass ceilings in corporate Europe are a real problem, and nowhere more than in the financial sector. The EWL joins many experts in the conviction that a greater presence of women in financial decision making might have prevented the spin towards reckless, short-term profit-oriented banking that ultimately led to the current crisis.

MYTH THREE:  "The costs of thisDDirective would cost British businesses a further £2b!"

ü FACT: According to the British Equality and Human Rights Commission, the cost estimate of 20 weeks of full paid maternity leave would, in fact, only amount to £1.3 billion. Additionally, this cost estimate is for the British government, not employers, as the employer in the UK is reimbursed by the state for the benefits paid to workers on maternity leave.

ü FACT: Maternity leave in the UK currently is drastically underfinanced: mothers receive a laughable - £123/month puts them below the relative poverty line - but comparatively long (up to a year) leave allowance. This is not cost-effective for employers and frustrating for employees: the longer an employee is absent from her work, the more it will cost employers to replace her during her absence and re-train her once she returns. A German study shows that prolonged absence from work can cost employers between €2,000 and €12,000 per employee.

ü FACT: The additional £1.3bn the implementation of this Directive would cost the UK would by no means be a large budget item. In fact, the UK currently spends six times that amount every year on the aftermaths of both smoking and obesity, and three times that amount on the effects of domestic violence, not to mention the trillions of pounds spent in the aftermath of the financial crisis to stabilise London banks. 

MYTH FOUR: "Long, mandatory maternity leave keeps women out of the job market and does more harm than good."

ü FACT: A Canadian study shows that high maternity leave payments in the 20 weeks after birth are a strong incentive for women to return to their previous jobs after maternity leave. Employers would actually benefit from this new Directive, because the female employees in whose training they have invested time and money would return from their maternity leave more quickly, ready to resume their old positions.

ü FACT: The provisions in this Directive would certainly not force women to stay at home should they want to return to work before the six weeks of mandatory leave have passed. The mandatory leave time simply assures that all European women have a chance to recuperate from the emotional upheaval and physical stress of giving birth before reentering the labour market.

ü FACT: The current draft of the reform Directive does not only provide for full pay, but also for strong legal protections, precisely to combat the kind of discrimination that still marginalises some women for having children. 

MYTH FIVE: "Parental leave is just as good as maternity leave. Countries that provide some remunerated parental leave scheme are doing more than enough for mothers, fathers and families."

ü FACT: Parental leave is an important tool for reconciliation, but it does not address the basic reality that women are biologically responsible for giving birth. While both generous parental leave provisions and the paternity leave clause in the current draft of this Directive are welcome measures, the two schemes are fundamentally different and should not be confused.

ü FACT: The reason many support parental leave is not just that it is an effective policy, but also because it is cheaper. Parental leave payments in Europe average at around €500 a month, much less than full pay for most workers, and some countries do not have any formal paid parental leave schemes.

MYTH SIX: "Being on maternity or paternity leave is like being on extended sick leave or a long vacation, and nobody expects employers to finance that."

ü FACT: As the Commission points out in its Europe 2020 Strategy, Europe's working population is shrinking while the share of retired people is growing twice as fast as it did before 2007. Europe will not have a sustainable workforce for long unless someone is giving birth to the next generation of scientists, teachers, voters and taxpayers, and claiming that women on maternity leave are essentially "inactive" or "not contributing" to societies undermines the fundamental sustainability of our workforce and of Europe as a whole.

ü FACT: Giving birth puts most women under serious hormonal, physical and emotional strain, and the first few weeks of newborns' lives are invaluable in their development of trust, sensory-cognitive skills and a bond with both their parents. Policy makers should take care not to minimise or ridicule the strain and the rewards a new infant brings.

MYTH SEVEN: "China, India and other economic powerhouses don't provide fully paid maternity leave; this will harm our competitiveness."

ü FACT: Chinese manufacturing workers earn between $100 and $400 a month, and in India, 42% of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. Europe will never meet these standards, and should stop trying to do so: the European welfare system and measures like this Directive that empower workers are a value, not a burden, in the global market.

 
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