Pan European Trade union women leaders who met in Budapest on 8 November 2012, gathered at the third Women’s Conference of the Pan-European Regional Council, representing 89 trade unions from 43 countries, called on world and European leaders NOT to forget the plight of women when formulating austerity measures to tackle the world financial and economic crisis. The Statement on Gender Aspects of the ongoing Crisis emphasizes the need to define a new approach, where people and the planet will be more important than profit.
Unfortunately, we observe the worsening standards of living for women. In many European countries, the economic crisis has been used to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, over-exploiting the workforce, limiting democratic practices, reducing social and citizens’ rights, and increasing divisions between different sectors of the population.
Along the years we have witnessed an improvement in women’s legal rights, educational achievements, and participation in public life, and women have taken many steps forward. More women are exercising leadership in politics and business and more women survive childbirth and can plan their families. Yet, in spite of the made progress, not a single country can claim to be entirely free from gender-based discrimination. Inequality is obvious in persistent gender wage gaps and unequal opportunities, in the low representation of women in leadership, both in public office and in the private sector, in human trafficking and - most tragic - in continuing violence against women in all its forms.
Women’s full and equal participation in the political and economic field is fundamental to democracy and justice. Equal rights and opportunity underpin healthy economies and societies. Opening more opportunities to women would significantly raise economic growth and reduce poverty.
As trade unionists, we strive to negotiate fair wages and good working conditions, conciliation of private and working life. We are fighting against inequalities and for justice. Women are still concentrated on low paid jobs, and trade unions are fighting against this. Women are still working much harder to balance family and working life, as we have not reached a fair sharing of responsibilities at home and the glass ceiling still exists. Trade unions are working to put this injustice to an end.
A sustainable future can only be reached by people enjoying equality together. Everyone should be treated the same, equality depends on each of us.
Today on International Women’s Day, we reaffirm our commitment to women’s rights and we continue to move forward with courage and determination for defending the dignity and value of each human being and the equal rights of men and women alike.