Message of the PERC Women’s Committee with the occasion of the International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.
Despite all progress made in tackling gender equality we observe the worsening standards of living for women on our continent. In many European countries, the economic crisis has been used to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few, overexploiting the workforce, limiting democratic practices, repressing social and citizens’ movements, and increasing hate and divisions between different sectors of the population.

Women in the PERC region still face a lot of challenges:

• women work part-time more often than men; increase in lower paid jobs;
• women are still paid less than men; the gender pay gap has not narrowed in recent years
• older women are in big risk of poverty; women’s average pension is lower than that of men;
• despite of high level of education decision making positions at political and economic level are predominantly held by men;
• glass ceilings that stop women rising up the work hierarchy; glass walls that segregate women into particular jobs;
• women are not enough represented in decision making positions in trade unions;
• persistence of domestic violence and violence at workplace
• vulnerable groups: younger generation-gender stereotypes and disparities; gender inequalities in education; migrant women - have fewer opportunities and resources and face multiple discrimination; elderly women- greater risk of poverty

PERC Women’s Committee call on governments and European institutions:

• to take urgent action to target immediate measures to prevent women and families falling deeper into poverty;

• to reaffirm the commitment to create healthy economies and just and equal communities through strategies for full and productive employment

• to design macro-economic policies and industrial policies that promote the creation of productive and decent employment, and to enact policies and actions promoting decent employment of young women and men;

• to end de facto discrimination of young women and men in the labor market, to promote stable and direct employment relationships, to promote collective bargaining to improve the position and protection of youth in the labour market, to promote social protection floors that protect youth, to fight social exclusion of young people and to enable young women and men to make their career, family and life planning;

• to affirm that every woman has the right to work, to good working conditions, pay equity and to sufficient income for her basic economic, social and family needs—rights that should be enforced by providing adequate living wages; including maternity rights at the highest possible level;

• to respect workers’ freedom to form and join trade unions and bargain collectively, without threats and fear, with gender mainstreaming of the bargaining agenda and gender parity in representation;

• to stop attempts to increase retirement age for men and women without proper social consultations and without setting proper measures to secure jobs and social protection.

• to strengthen and broaden the social safety net protection by ensuring access to social security, pensions, unemployment benefits, maternity protection, and quality health care for all, and access to public services and measures which would enable reconciliation of work, family and private life;

• to create binding mechanisms for the promotion and enforcement of decent work, including core labor and environmental standards in trade agreements.

• to invest in education, training, skills, innovation and in-work programs, with a special focus on unemployed young women and men, to create the necessary mechanisms to fight against gender barriers in youth access to education and decent working places;

• to take into consideration the increasing violence in crisis-ridden societies and to find the necessary methods to strive together with the social partners for the elimination of all the various forms of violence against women

The time has come to define a new model where people and planet will be more important than profit.

PERC Women’s Committee wishes you a happy International Women’s Day !