|Statement from the study session on gender policy|
|Gender Working Group|
The FYEG Gender Working group organized a study session on European gender policies. It took place in the European Youth Center and counted with the financial support of the Council of Europe. This statement is the result from the session and was approved by the participants.
Statement on gender equality within CoE member states
We, members of the Federation of Young European Greens (FYEG) and its partners, gathered in Strasbourg in December 2011 for the study session “Gender Policies in the EU: what's next?”, funded by the Council of Europe. We notice a big gender inequality in our society, economy and politics which we want to overcome. Gender inequality is visible in all spheres, at all levels and in all countries. As main problems we see the gender pay gap, domestic and sexual violence, lack of gender education as well as female underrepresentation in decision making -both in the private and public domain-, [re]production of stereotypes, homo- and transphobia. We, as young greens, have the vision of a world where sex does not restrict a person's opportunities in life and where sex is not linked to any role expectations, a world where each human is seen as an individual and not as a member of any gender.
As a part of the struggle for gender equality in our society, we believe it is important that FYEG member organizations and other partner youth organizations implement gender equality policies and effective tools for gender mainstreaming in their internal work to show a good example for wider society. We also strive for gender mainstreaming in the society and push for gender equality measures in the following areas:
Implementation of existing directives (EU) and recommendations (CoE)
There are many policies, recommendations and good legislation regarding gender equality in European countries, but many of them only exist on paper and state governments often fail to produce practical results. The implementation of the European directives also takes too long. We insist on implementing gender equality policies in regulations and decisions, as well as tighter control on how and when they are put into practice. We also want further efforts to inform citizens on existing legislation.
Gender Pay Gap and Underrepresentation
The gender pay gap, referring to the difference in salary of men and women, is visible in all countries. There are two problems we want to address. First, women earn less money than men for the same position. We want to counteract this with a transparent salary system which enables to check that there are no gender-based salary differences. Second, women are less present in high positions and are usually confronted with bad working conditions in low paid jobs. As a temporary solution, we are in favour of fixed quotas to balance the representation of women and men in high positions and to establish parity in decision-making and salaries.
Traditionally, it is mostly the woman who stays home after giving birth, choose part-time jobs and does the unpaid work within the household. This leads to financial dependency, less opportunities to make a career and disadvantages in the pension system. It is important for parents to share the household and responsibilities for raising the children. Therefore, we demand equal, non-transferable, parental leave. This requires a new, modern role of fatherhood and a new approach that recognize alternative and diverse family models. In addition, we demand quality social services (towards children, elderly, sick and disabled people) available for all families regardless of their economical situation, working times or location.
Male role in gender
Gender equality is not only a women’s issue! All sexes suffer from predetermined gender roles. Men are often exposed to pressure to be the breadwinners and are expected not to show any weakness. As a consequence, they, especially boys, are subject to violence when they do not live up to masculinity norms. The whole society benefits from gender equality, thus it is important that men join the fight for it.
We seek to achieve a gender-responsive budgeting to ensure that the collection and allocation of public resources is carried out in ways that are effective and contribute to an advance in gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Domestic and sexual violence is a problem usually occurring in the private sphere and therefore often invisible and hard to prove. We demand strict gender neutral legislation, jurisdiction, and effective implementations. Furthermore, we need to shift the burden of proof on the accused and take immediate action to ensure the safety of the accuser. Gender-based violence not only violates human rights, but also hampers productivity and reduces human capital. We firmly oppose all harassment and sexual violence.
Intersections of Oppression
It is also important to recognize other types of oppression, for example, those based on age, sexual orientation, gender identity, social or ethnic background. LGBTQ people are not totally accepted in all countries and are often subject to double discrimination and violence. Additionally, they do not enjoy the same legal rights, such as those of marriage and adoption. We strive for immediate inclusion of all minorities into society and equal rights. Looking at climate change, women are the group who suffers most immediately from the consequences. Their voices need to be included in the development process of the global south.
Education and awareness-raising among young people
Young people are especially vulnerable to the influence of stereotypes, cultural and social norms, but at the same time they are open to change and to new ideas. That is why it is so important to promote gender equality among young people. We believe that the school should take an important role in forming young people into active, critical-thinking, political actors. Teachers and students need to be aware of the [un]conscious [re]production of gender stereotypes in order to fight them. This includes underrepresentation of girls in sciences and more attention from the teacher towards the boys. Schools should aim to gender equality both in studies and extra-curricular activities. We want gender-aware educators, especially in the period of self-definition that teenagers go through.
All of these problems are rooted in lack of social awareness about gender and patriarchy. Everyone is affected by several prejudices. Therefore, we demand formal, non-formal education which eliminates all kinds of prejudices, educates young people to be open-minded and promotes solidarity and respect for the diversity of each individual being. This is the long-term solution for gender inequality.