Parliamentary Watch: Recognising the challenges faced by older women and carers

Each year, the European Commission publishes a report on the Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is accompanied by a report on progress on equality between women and men. The Parliament adopts opinions for both reports. The one on gender equality has been voted on 10 March 2015.

What is there for older women?

The Parliament’s opinion recalls that there are more women than men living in poverty and exclusion, especially older women whose average pension level is 39% lower than that of men. The report also recognises the challenges faced by families supporting dependent relatives and the current failure to promote policies providing for a work-life balance and assistance services for persons in need of care and assistance.  MEPs therefore urge Member States to implement more efficient inclusion strategies to tackle female poverty, and to support older people in the form of tax credits or health care assistance. Moreover, the Parliament invites the Commission to address the structural causes of female poverty in the European Semester’s Country Specific Recommendations. Last but not least, the report deplores the fact that more than a third of older women in the EU receive no form of pension and points to the imperative need to reduce gender gaps in pay and pension.

Read the full report here

Moreover, the Parliament further worked on gender equality in the frame of the Strategy for equality between women and men. This Strategy represents the European Commission’s work programme on gender equality for the period 2010-2015. It is a comprehensive framework committing the Commission to promote gender equality into all its policies for the following thematic priorities:

  • equal economic independence for women and men;
  • equal pay for work of equal value;
  • equality in decision-making;
  • dignity, integrity and ending gender-based violence;
  • promoting gender equality beyond the EU;
  • horizontal issues (gender roles, including the role of men, legislation and governance tools).

The Parliament adopted on 9 June 2015 a resolution on the Strategy post 2015, i.e. which areas the Strategy should address in the coming years.

What is there for older women?

MEPs also recall in this report the gender pension gap, the high risk of poverty faced by older women, and recognised that access to affordable, high-quality childcare and support services for older dependent persons is essential for ensuring the equal participation of men and women in the labour market, education and training. They recommend developing specific actions to strengthen the rights of the different groups of women, including older women, and to adopt the Council directive on equal treatment, blocked at the Council since 2008. They also suggest inserting a gender perspective in the European Semester’s Annual Growth Survey and Country Specific Recommendations and inviting Member States to initiate gender impact assessments of policies, especially in the field of labour and pensions.

Read the full report here.

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