Teleworking has the potential to support work-life balance and should be a means of promoting gender equality. For this, the burden of the unpaid care and domestic work performed by women must be fully shared with men. Then, the rules applying to the workplace must be applied to the home office, including on health and safety and protection against harassment and violence. As there is no consolidated European framework on telework, it is necessary to assess existing rules' effectiveness. Social partners should review the 2002 Framework Agreement on Telework and give it a new impetus.
EESC opinion: Teleworking and gender equality - conditions so that teleworking does not exacerbate the unequal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work between women and men and for it to be an engine for promoting gender equality
This opinion, requested by the German Presidency of the Council, makes the following main recommendations:
- data collection and monitoring of diversity policies in the labour market must be improved at all levels;
- the principles of diversity management must be integrated into EU rules and generalised;
- more funds should be allocated to diversity management, in order to support the work of civil society organisations working with racialized groups and the diversity policies put in place by the social partners;
- to tackle the underutilisation of migrants' skills and increase their participation in the labour market, these need to be further recognised. In addition, migrants should benefit from free and universal training, including language courses;
- migrants should be active, not only in the labour market, but also in politics;
The EESC describes integration as a dynamic process, involving both migrants and the receiving society. It believes that migration challenges should be addressed in a holistic manner. Gender equality should become one of the key pillars in integration. Migrant families and parents should be involved in the local and school community as from the early stages of reception. On language training, the EESC believes that this should foresee cultural exploration and involvement in the community and society, as well as guidance and information to migrants on the advantages and the aims of language training. In view of the disparities that exist in Member States with regard to language teaching, the EESC calls for common EU guidelines for language training, which can help ensure a unified and holistic approach.
Gender equality is not only a human rights issue; it is a social and economic necessity for the EU, its Member States and businesses, as it hugely impacts on sustainable growth and GDP, while allowing to use the potential of 51% of the EU population. The EU needs to elevate gender equality to a stand-alone goal with a binding strategy, centred in the following measures: fighting the economic inequality affecting women and the current backlash of their rights; ratifying and implementing the Istanbul Convention on all forms of violence against women (including harassment); addressing once and for all gendered stereotypes, namely through the media; and supporting civil society organisations working for greater gender equality.
A large number of Roma women and girls continue to face multiple discrimination in various areas, ranging from health to employment and education, amongst others. They also have limited opportunities to influence the policies that most concern them. The EESC emphasises the importance of their involvement, with programmes aimed at Roma women foreseeing a majority of Roma women in their planning and implementation. The EESC calls for an end to segregated education and for the abolition of health practices which infringe ethical standards.
This opinion responds to a request from European Parliament for an exploratory opinion on gender equality in European labour markets, which had put a special emphasis on the pay situation and care obligations.
The opinion considers it necessary to draw up an integrated and ambitious European strategy to tackle systemic and structural obstacles and lead to policies for improving equality between women and men and to help implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights. It reiterates the EESC positions on the gender pay gap and work-life balance and recommends gender neutral pay systems. It pleads to fight gender segregation in education, training and the labour market, in particular of women belonging to vulnerable groups.