EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

The Gender Dimension

Dear all,

Without improving the position of women in the labour market, it is hard to create a socially coherent Europe.

Gender equality is inextricably linked with employment and social inclusion, two objectives actively pursued through the Lisbon Strategy.

To this effect, the PES Group at the Committee of the Regions is recommending that the Strategy for Growth and Jobs should be gender mainstreamed in relation not only to its Jobs and Social Inclusion part as is currently the case, but also to the Growth element.

More specifically, we call for a clear reference to equal opportunities in all 24 Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs, which cover the macro-economic, micro-economic and employment dimensions.

Insofar as job creation is concerned, we point out that there is an urgent need to monitor the quantitative progress of women in the labour market, which is still insufficient, and admittedly still leaves them disadvantaged in relation to men since they continue to be both under-employed and underpaid. We therefore reiterate our call for a decentralised and gender-sensitive implementation of the Lisbon Strategy.

Local and regional authorities are generally in a position to provide an accurate mapping of the labour market and unemployment situation in their area, reflecting the specificities – including gender – of both job holders and job seekers. We also highlight their key role in improving women’s employability through the provision of education and lifelong learning opportunities.

For further details about the contribution to the position papers of the PES Group in the Committee of the Regions on the four consultation themes for the elaboration of a PES Manifesto for the 2009 European elections and in particular the 5th horizontal theme on THE GENDER DIMENSION OF THE PES MANIFESTO, please visit:

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  1. “Without improving the position of women in the labour market, it is hard to create a socially coherent Europe.”

    How true!

    The Gender Equality Gap in the EU can only be decreased by tackling gender equality issues in each and every EU Member State. Certain MSs are still, in my honest opinion, more culturally disposed to having men rather than women, taking active and commanding roles in the Labour Market.

    To tackle this, as with all cultural changes, we need to start with the young ones – start a new cultural formation, through education, through information, through more adequate structures.

    As with all cultural changes, this will take time. But it will be time well spent.

    Dear Claudette, your work within PES is greatly appreciated. Our little country needs more able thinkers like you.

  2. The Image of the Family as a Tree

    The tree represents the family unit with each of the members of the family represented by different elements of the tree that God has ordained for us.

    The husband/father takes on the role of the trunk and roots. His job, as the roots, is to reach deep down into the earth to anchor the tree and search out water and nutrients. His job as the trunk is to stand firm and support the whole structure. He must be able to bend, but only a little, his most important job being to draw up food and make sure never to break despite the weight and stresses he feels.

    The wife/mother represents the mass of branches and leaves. She also draws in nutrients through the leaves by catching the sun’s life-giving rays. Her task is very different from that of her husband, the trunk and roots. It is she that is most affected and vulnerable to the climate and prevailing weather conditions. It is she who has to withstand winter gales and summer storms, the baking sun and the weight of snow in winter. She is the one who is easily tossed around by every change in direction of the wind. She is the one who can be moved most easily and attacked by hostile elements. Her strength is her flexibility, her ability to bend and bend without breaking but in order to do this she must rely on her husband to remain strong and firm and allow her to move this way and that but never to let go of him or lose her balance.

    They work as a team, but never more so than when it comes to the bounty of producing their fruit, the seed of the next generation. Although the fruit is formed within the branches and leaves and appears to have no direct connection with the trunk and roots the knowledge is always there that fruit can only be sustained as part of a healthy tree where the essential elements of life are provided by all the parts of the tree working together in harmony and the life-producing sap flows through the roots and trunk up into the branches and leaves and hence to the blossom and fruit. The trunk and roots rely on the branches and leaves finishing off the job for them by nurturing the blossom and fruit until it is ready to start a life of its own.

    Thus it can be seen that the job of a husband is a tough one. He is often taken for granted and criticised for not appearing to be more pro-active. His response is simply that when your feet are buried in twenty feet of clay and your life work is supporting the bulk of your family it certainly could look as if he’s doing nothing, but just you try it and you will realise that simply to remain firm and rooted is in fact all he can do and more importantly what he must continue to do, no matter what!

    It is also easy not to even see him at all. When one looks at a tree, even in winter, what we use to identify it is the shape and character of the branches. We never look at the trunk. We just take that for granted and in the summer all we see is the beauty in the colour and shape of the leaves and the magnificence of the blossom and fruit and this is the same in the family and in relationships between men and women.

    When a man and woman dance together all we see is the woman, moving in elegant circles this way and that or spinning and twisting like a top. We never think about the seemingly insignificant connection there is between her and her partner and his strong right arm that she uses as a anchor point to swing on.

    Nature moves in cycles, thus the leaves fall and give fertility to the land beneath the tree in which the fruit will itself create a new family of its own, an extended family to its parents. A lone tree in a field is exposed and vulnerable. Trees that grow up close to each other provide shelter and protect each other in times of storm and drought.

    A bright future depends on the strength of families made up of people who understand the true nature and complimentarity of their roles and who are prepared to stick to their job despite everything that is wrought upon them to upset their precious harmony.

    Roger Eldridge

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