Time to deliver a (2)


Posturing on IWD won’t change the facts


We’re taking this all with a pinch of salt.


On the surface it seems that there has been significant progress made in the fight for gender equality throughout Europe over the last eighteen months. We have seen, led from Brussels, advancement on the Women on Boards Directive, the Pay Transparency Directive, and, more recently, an agreement reached on the Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Directive. Undoubtedly legislative progress has been made in the proposal and adoption of these directives, but when we zoom out at the finalised texts, initiatives that were scrapped and the policy-based reality, Member States give us one takeaway:

No matter what is said on International Women’s Day, some key European governments are not taking the fight for gender equality seriously.

The necessity for action could not be more evident, though this has been the case for many decades. Energy poverty saw 44% of single mothers and 31% of single women struggling to pay their energy bills in 2023. The bulk of unpaid care work is done by women, and this hinders their access to employment, and the paid care sector has a large share of women employees who are often in low-income, precarious jobs, with few career prospects. On a daily basis, 81% of women and 48% of men provide care. This rises to 88% for mothers and 64% for fathers of children under 18 years. The gender pay gap still means that women earn 13% less per hour than men, and has only been reduced by 1% over the last eight years. For professionals and managers in particular this pay gap is exacerbated, with many consistently being blocked by the glass ceiling imposed through gender inequality.

“Time and time again we see sleight of hand from Member States, saying they want positive changes but voting against them in Brussels. Today of all days we should call it for what it is: Disingenuous, cynical and failing European citizens”

The global statistics regarding gender-based violence are astounding, with around 50 women losing their life to domestic violence every week, while 75% of women within a professional setting have experienced sexual harassment. In Europe, over 80% of those who experience violence do not seek professional help, 32% of perpetrators of sexual harassment come from the employment context, with 44% having suffered psychological violence from a partner in their lifetime. In economic terms, the estimated annual cost of our inaction against gender-based violence amounts to €366 billion each year across various sectors.

Put simply, women are not equal participants in the workplace, in Europe or globally. For Member States to allow this reality to continue is a dereliction of their duty to deliver for citizens.

Despite this, senior figures throughout Europe have consistently pushed back against initiatives seeking to bridge the gap between the sexes. Take the Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Directive as an example, where Article 5 (the criminalisation of rape based on a lack of consent), the workplace element in virtually its entirety and the role of trade unions have been removed from the text by a number of Member States. Many of these same countries have also denied women progress in their opposition to the Corporate Sustainability and Due Diligence Directive, Platform Work Directive and the removal of key workplace elements in the AI Act. Europe’s professionals and managers would have had a crucial role to play in implementing these initiatives, having consistently called for the introduction of legislation, and would have been some of the primary benefactors if positive changes could have been agreed.

On International Women’s Day it is important to call those who profess support for gender equality, yet vote against measures to deliver it when given the opportunity in Brussels. Hiding behind COREPER meetings does not alter the reality of the situation.

France, Germany and Italy have been the biggest offenders in this regard, having opposed European legislation crucial for the protection of women in Europe and throughout supply chains. When faced with overwhelming evidence on the need to act, Emmanuel Macron, Olof Scholz and Giorgia Meloni have come to Brussels to disrupt and delay progress. Their social media posts today will not hide this fact.

Until they accept the need for action to match rhetoric, their posturing will continue to be dismissive of those who require protection most.

Speaking to this and reflecting on International Women’s Day, Eurocadres President Nayla Glaise stated:

“None of the statistics relating to inequality will come as a major surprise to those who have been involved in European policymaking, and while progress has been made in a number of areas over the past eighteen to twenty four months, the impact of new legislation has not yet been felt by women throughout the EU, with a number of improvements also yet to be finalised, or even initiated.

Adding the failure of many Member States to improve the situation, and their complete opposition to progress in some cases, we find ourselves yet again accepting empty platitudes from senior politicians.

Time and time again we see sleight of hand from Member States, saying they want positive changes but voting against them in Brussels. Today of all days we should call it for what it is: Disingenuous, cynical and failing European citizens.

Women have rarely been placed at the heart of policy decisions, with a need for gender to play a more central role in policymaking.

Until we start truly pushing to eradicate inequality at home and in Brussels, we’ll continue to reflect of failures year after year”.