Più donne, e a livelli più alti, nell'Unione Europea. E' un impegno concreto quello di Margot Wallström, vice presidente della Commissione europea, per accrescere la partecipazione femminile alla vita politica anche in ruoli dirigenziali. Ma – come ammette in un'intervista concessa a questo blog – "la triste verità ancora oggi è che il solo fatto di essere in età da figli o di averne avuto recentemente uno è di per sé un fattore penalizzante per le donne, anche quelle che hanno costruito con fatica una brillante percorso professionale". La combattiva vice di Barroso ha indetto una mobilitazione (A call for action) tramite il suo blog per sostenere le candidature femminili alla presidenza della prossima Commissione, ma anche per aumentare la presenza femminile nelle liste elettorali e per aumentare l’elettorato femminile nelle elezioni per il Parlamento Europeo a giugno. Perché, spiega nel suo post, la scarsa rappresentanza femminile "non è per la mancanza di donne capaci, ma per una questione di uomini che scelgono altri uomini”. Cosa fare in merito? "L'Ue ha già fatto molto, stabilito principi e linee guida molto chiare contro la discriminazione di genere, ora vanno applicate negli Stati membri". Lascerò l'intervista originale i Inglese per apprezzare meglio il suo pensiero.
D: The European parliament just called for a renewed approach on gender equality. What can be done on the decisional level (Commission) to tackle the problem of women that want both to have a family and to work, possibly with a "normal" (.i.e. equal to men) career path? Whay is for example thr role of the new European Institute for Gender equality?
R: Reconciliation of work and family life is indeed an important challenge in today's Europe – both for women and for men. The sad truth of today is that childbearing – or simply being of childbearing age – is a disadvantage for many European women who wants to get ahead with their career. Child care facilities in some EU countries are still considered a luxury, not a necessity.
The fact is that the European Commission has already done a lot to tackle the problem of gender inequality. Gender discrimination of all kinds is banned in the EU treaties, and the Commission has proposed legislation to reinforce the right to maternity leave and has recommended action to provide more and better childcare facilities. We have also begun talks with employers and trade unions on parental leave. What we need now is solid implementation throughout the EU of our policies and recommendations.
The European Institute for Gender equality was established on 20 December 2006, and the seat was chosen to be Vilnius. The Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament gave in mid January their consent on appointing Ms Virginija Langbakk the Director of the European Institute for Gender Equality. I regret that the deadline of having the Institute up and running on 19 January at the latest, was not met, and hope to see it become operational as soon as possible.
The idea of the Institute of Gender Equality is to provide help in terms of expertise, to improve knowledge and raise visibility of equality between men and women. Its overall objectives are to:
• contribute to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality, including gender mainstreaming in all Community policies and the resulting national policies;
• fight against discrimination based on sex; and
• raise EU citizens' awareness of gender equality by providing technical assistance to the Community institutions, in particular the Commission, and the authorities of the Member States
D: Several economists and sociologists see the actual crisis as a new opportunity for women: the labour market is loosing its traditional schemes and often – even if involuntarily – men are no more the only "breadwinners" in a family. Do you agree?
R: Well, lately I have read many articles and studies pointing to the fact that women are very good for business; and that having a female manager is to the company's advantage.
As Ruth Sunderland, the Observer's business editor, put it recently in the Guardian: "Women are the single biggest – and least acknowledged – force for economic growth on the planet. This is not a claim made by rampant feminists, but by the Economist, which suggests that over the past few decades, women have contributed more to the expansion of the world economy than either new technology or the emerging markets of China and India. But surprise, surprise: technology and emerging markets have gleaned acres of coverage in the business press; the potential of women, seen as a 'soft' issue, has not."
D: The firs law signed by Obama (Lilly Ledbetter) was for equal treatment between man and woman in their salary. I know there are several European directives in this sense (more generally speaking about equal opportunities) but I also know that implementation in single countries is problematic (Italy was recently recalled on that among other six States). How could this be improved?
R: This is indeed a big problem. Women in Europe earn in average 17% less than men for the same job. In some countries, the pay gap is as big 26%. The Commission is fighting hard to eliminate this problem, and recently launched an information campaign in all EU countries about the gender pay gap. Hopefully this will help creating awareness about an issue that affects women throughout Europe!