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EU must ‘rethink’ its family-oriented policies

EU must ‘rethink’ its family-oriented policies

2014. 01. 20.

Since the demographic changes being seen and future trends in Europe are inevitable, it is high time to consider the solutions and opportunities we have at hand. As you may remember the Hungarian presidency had put the issue of ageing and disability, as well as families, on the agenda and now the Greek presidency is dealing with the topics of gender balance among non-executive directors of companies on stock exchanges and related measures, the social situation in the EU, as well as the planned council conclusions on women and the economy.

Women’s outstanding results in education and their efforts in balancing private and public life are evident, and their talent must be supported all the time. Why? Because families, to my understanding, are the most important unit of a sustainable society and sharing responsibilities of family obligations is also of the utmost importance. Since the women’s labour force became involved in mass production during the second world war, their role has been changing, with the addition of multiple tasks to that of childbearing. In many cases, women are the breadwinners in their families and they often have to earn enough not only for their children, but often for their ageing parents as well. For example, Japan already shows the future in a way because, among other things, more diapers are already bought for the elderly than for infants. Nevertheless, Europe will eventually be in the same boat and we must be ready for this phenomenon. The good news we have is that we can build a more sustainable society through the involvement of more active aged and disabled people.

Looking at the figures relating to people with diplomas based on their gender, it is clear that women are keeping ahead of men. Men have to bear in mind that their girlfriends and wives could drive much more successful careers and therefore have to support their efforts in the workplace by taking up more household and family responsibilities. As a member of parliament’s EPP group, built on the Christian heritage, my argument might be supported by the fact that Christianity obliges equality, solidarity and mutuality in matrimony between man and woman.

However, many active women still struggle to adequately provide for their younger and older family members at the same time. It is even true in the EU, where, according to World Bank estimations, social-related expenditure is considered the highest in comparison to other continents and regions in the world.

Finally, I was disappointed by the fact that my report on a general framework for equal treatment in the EU’s employment directive was voted down in parliament’s employment and social affairs committee without indicating key votes last year, because each and every compromise was adopted based on the notion that all discrimination fields should be equally balanced in respect to sex, age, disability, religion and sexual orientation in the workplace.

I hope that exchanges of good practice in family policies will strengthen discussions among governments, civil society, academic and private sectors or even by direct consultations with the voters for all our sakes.

Source: The Parliament Magazine