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A major first: Women’s Watch 2012-2013

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EWL report, women's watch, feminist reivewThe first feminist overview of European gender equality.

Billed as a ‘snapshot’ of the current situation, and based on legislation and statistical data, the report was published by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and examines three main topics and the links between them.

Viviane Teitelbaum, the EWL’s president, said that the report ‘is the first of its kind – a genuinely feminist appraisal of the situation on the ground in 30 countries.

‘I hope it will help us understand why the work of women’s associations, and those who support them in so many different ways, is so crucial.’

The three areas examined by the report are: women in decision-making; women’s economic independence and care responsibilities; and violence against women and women’s sexual and reproductive rights.

‘We now have the opportunity to pull out interlinked threads,’ said Teitelbaum. ‘Policies that affect one area have knock-on effects in others.’

What are the headlines?

While women are increasingly visible in elected office, ‘once we move into different forms of decision making roles (heads of political parties, senior ministries, positions on corporate boards) women disappear.’

The change that has already occurred in the gender parity of positions of power is of course welcome. However, having taken decades to get to where we are now, the EWL says, ‘we no longer have time to waste.’

The United Kingdom is one of 15 countries with zero per cent of female leaders in major political parties.

And with debate is continuing in many countries over the appropriateness and usefulness of quotas, the EWL report points out that ‘a legal guarantee prevents potential regressions.’

Already much debated in the UK, the EWL report emphasises the danger as ‘crisis and austerity policies potentially jeopardise decades of progress towards gender equality.’

In the UK, ‘the number of women working part-time is more than triple that of men (43.3 per cent versus 12.6 per cent).’

And nearly 30 per cent of women with care responsibilities in the UK ‘who are in part-time work or classified as inactive say this is due to inadequate care services.’

So with gender gaps still existing in earnings, working patterns and expectations of care, there is still a long way to go before women’s economic independence becomes a reality.

Worryingly, the report found that ‘violence against women remains invisible because of the lack of data, at European and national level.’

It appears that while the topic has been gaining ground in terms of serious media coverage and debate, public administration processes have not been keeping up.

In the UK, despite less than half of all domestic violence incidents being reported to the police, the police still receive one domestic violence call every minute.

With European parliamentary elections and a newly appointed European Commission coming up in 2014, the European Women’s Lobby ‘urges decision-makers at all levels to take into account the findings of this Women’s Watch report and to use them as a tool for change towards full equality between women and men, in all spheres of life.’

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