Press and Media

EU Conference hears that Gender Equality in Workforce is Central to† EU’s targets for Economic Growth

Member States must address barriers which limit opportunities both for women and economic growth

Gender Equality Minister Kathleen Lynch T.D. is hosting an EU Presidency conference entitled ‘Women’s Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda’ in Dublin Castle today (Monday 29th April) and tomorrow.†

This European Commission supported event, which is the flagship event for Gender Equality in this, our seventh Presidency, is bringing together over 200 experts people from across Europe – policy-makers, government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs, employment and equality experts† to look at steps which can be taken to increase economic growth across Europe by encouraging women to remain in or to return to the labour market.

In his opening address to the conference, Justice Minister Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. Minister for Justice and Equality, referred to the "win-win situation" which could be achieved by women having not just jobs but "better jobs".† He noted that furthering the economic engagement of women has a strong positive effect on boosting economic growth, while at the same time strengthening women’s economic independence.

The ICT sector was earmarked for special attention by Mr. Richard Bruton, T.D., Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. At present Women comprise only 30% of the ICT workforce in Europe. This ICT sector is rapidly growing and creating around 120,000 new jobs across Europe every year. He noted that there is an urgent need to find new ways of encouraging girls to take up careers in ICT and to show them the opportunities on offer.

In addressing the Conference, Minister Lynch and European Commissioner for Employment, Mr. Laszlo Andor further developed these themes.† They emphasised the importance of increasing female participation in the labour market† and on the imperative to capitalise on the well educated female EU population in order to achieve the key employment goals of the Europe 2020 Strategy – the EU’s economic policy for the present decade.†

The opening day of the Conference looked at the economic background to the topic.† It heard from the OECD which has recently published a ground breaking analysis entitled "Closing the Gender Gap" linking women’s employment, education and entrepreneurship as factors to maximise economic growth potential across the OECD area, including in the European Union.†

The conference is also looking at the challenges to women’s full engagement.††
Dr. Willem Adema of the OECD commented that women are disadvantaged by the unequal responsibilities of unpaid care work which limits and in some instances prevents their employment and entrepreneurial activities.† He advocated that "countries should promote a more gender equitable use of flexible working time arrangements and parental leave entitlements among fathers and mothers to generate a better sharing of paid and unpaid work."

Dr. Daniela Bankier, Head of Gender Equality in the European Commission noted that equality between men and women is a fundamental right and a common principle of the European Union and a key element of sustainable, smart and inclusive economic growth.† She emphasised that "Women represent a growing share of the EU workforce. Significant challenges remain in fields such as reconciling work and family life and gender balance in decision-making. Women must be given the opportunity to fully participate in the labour market and to develop their full potential."

Her Commission colleague from DG Employment, Ms. Wallis Goelen outlined some of the economic disincentives, both national and personal, pointing out that economic inactivity for women can be linked to an increase in effective tax rates when moving from inactivity to employment or when the wage increases, the participation of women in the labour market may be discouraged.† Childcare costs can be a further disincentive to start or return to work for a second earner.† The EU institutions are recommending that Member States tackle these disincentives, to ensure that the contribution of the well educated female population of the EU can maximise its personal economic independence and its potential contribution to economic growth across the Union.†

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch announces major EU Presidency Conference on Women's Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda - 'The Printworks', Dublin Castle, April 29th - 30th 2013.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch T.D. today announced the holding of a major International Conference on 'Women's Economic Engagement and the Europe 2020 Agenda' as part of Ireland's EU Presidency Programme on Gender Equality.The Conference which is grant aided under the EU's Progress Programme will take place in the Print Works Confrence Suite, Dublin Castle, on 29th and 30th April.