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«Investing in thorny questions: closing the gender gap and combining work and care National Thematic Network Equal Opportunities 1 Investing in thorny ...»

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Agentschap SZW

Investing in thorny questions:

closing the gender gap and

combining work and care

National Thematic Network Equal Opportunities


Investing in thorny questions:

closing the gender gap and

combining work and care

Results of the second section of EQUAL projects in the

Equal Opportunities for Women and Men pillar

EQUAL Final Report

National Thematic Network

Equal Opportunities


The Hague, September 2007 Authors Margit van der Steen, external adviser NTN Equal Opportunities, AETAS. Office for age issues, gender and diversity.

Nezos Demirel, Chairman NTN Equal Opportunities Members of NTN Equal Opportunities This report is a joint product of all the members of NTN, however the conclusions and recommendations are not by definition shared by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) and the organisations or ministries represented by individual members of NTN.

1 Table of contents Summary 3 1 Introduction 5

1.1 EQUAL projects 5

1.2 The report 5 2 The NTN Equal Opportunities 7

2.1 Tasks and activities 7 3 Policy context 8

3.1 Innovative economy 8

3.2 Participation society 8

3.3 Emancipation policy 9

3.4 A diverse government 9 4 Good practices selection process 10

4.1 The projects 10

4.2 Notes on the selection process 10

4.3 Criteria 11 5 Good practices 12

5.1 Work/care combination 12

5.2 Closing the gender gap 14

5.3 Added value of transnationality 16

5.4 Gender mainstreaming 17 6 Policy recommendations for the government 19 Appendix I: summary of allocated projects 21 Appendix II: NTN Equal Opportunities members list - May 2005 – December 2007 23 Appendix III: summary of most important activities of NTN Equal Opportunities 24 2 SummaryThis report is devoted to the results of EQUAL projects in the area of equal opportunities for women and men and their significance for government policy. Good practices and the resulting recommendations for various policy domains form the focal point.

Over the period May 2005 to December 2007, sixteen EQUAL projects were launched that focused on the combination of work and care or eliminating the gender gap. The National Thematic Network (NTN) Equal Opportunities has endeavoured to disseminate the results of these projects further and to incorporate them into policy.

Results One important result is the realisation that policy aimed at the combination of work and care must be modernised and must also devote attention to the combination of professional work and volunteer care.

Some projects were targeted at labour market guidance for very poorly-educated (minority) women. Experiences have shown that it was not realistic to refer to labour market guidance;

the projects did lead to empowerment of participants.

Some projects succeeded in achieving good results in closing the gender gap in a number of professional fields (science, IT and defence) because they meet a number of related conditions. These conditions relate to the project supervisor and to the professional field.

The project supervisor:

- has authority in the field and knows the professional field;

- possesses gender expertise;

- works in a strong joint venture context;

- is able to develop and disseminate high-quality products;

- makes a targeted approach to relevant policymakers;

- utilises international cooperation.

The professional field:

- identification of the need to allow more women to join because of expected shortages on the labour market and/or recognition of the added value of diversity; no physical functional requirements should seriously impede access to the profession.

Policy recommendations The NTN Equal Opportunities makes twelve policy recommendations, the most important of

which are:

- Formation of volunteer care and work Task Force;

- Foundation of gender and science Knowledge Centre;

- In order to prevent unrealistic expectations, a clearer distinction must be made between projects geared towards guidance into the labour market and projects geared towards empowering participants;


- The diversity policy in the fire service must be placed high on the policy agenda. The Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK) should establish guidelines and targets in the area of diversity with the fire service;

- Anchoring the gender perspective within defence policy should be forcefully continued;

- Recognise the gender field of expertise and invest in the accumulation of knowledge in this field.

–  –  –

This report focuses on the results of EQUAL projects in the field of equal opportunities for women and men and their significance for government policy. Good practices and the resulting recommendations for various policy areas form the main focal point.

1.1 EQUAL projects The EQUAL subsidy scheme is a Community programme operated by the European Social Fund, aimed at combating discrimination on the labour market. EQUAL aims to identify, disseminate and incorporate successful innovations into policy and regular performance practice. EQUAL projects can be characterised by a transnational dimension and working in broad partnerships. The parties relevant to the project are represented in these joint ventures.

These parties include government institutions, the business community and interest groupings.

The EQUAL programme has five areas of attention, including the field of equal opportunities for women and men. During the period 2002-2005, twenty projects in the area of equal opportunities were conducted. The final reporting showed that closing the gender gap and a better combination of work and care are extremely thorny questions. Close follow-up is needed to prevent projects in the target group and the relevant organisations from sinking once launched.

For this reason, some projects were continued during the “second section”. During the period May 2005 – 31 December 1007 another sixteen EQUAL projects were fulfilled in the field of equal opportunities. Five projects are geared towards the sub-theme of “The combination of work and care”. Eleven projects are devoted to reducing horizontal and vertical segregation on the labour market, or the gender gap.

In order to support EQUAL projects, specifically with dissemination and mainstreaming, National Thematic Networks (NTNs) have been formed, including an NTN Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (referred to below as NTN Equal Opportunities).

1.2 The report This report focuses on the results of the projects of the second section (May 2005 – December 2007). At the time this report was compiled (September 2007) the projects were in their final phase, which means that not all results are yet known.

The report was written by the NTN Equal Opportunities on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) and is targeted first and foremost at members of the administration and policymakers in the various departments. In addition, the report was also

written for other policymakers in the area of M/F equal opportunities and the labour market:

from Europe down to and including the local level.

5 The report is based on the following sources: (a) contacts between NTN members and projects; (b) monitor reports from the Agency of the Ministry of SZW; (c) annual reports, web sites and other “products” of the projects; (d) presentations of projects during conferences and other meetings and (e) the project survey. This is a meeting organised by the Ministry of SZW at which all projects were evaluated by representatives from the Ministry, the Agency, the policy ambassador and the external NTN adviser.

The report is structured as follows: it discusses, in turn, the NTN Equal Opportunities, the selection and presentation of good practices and the specific policy recommendations for the various departments. This is followed by appendices, providing an overview of the projects, the composition of the NTN Equal Opportunities and the activities of this NTN.

62 The NTN Equal Opportunities

One important aim of all EQUAL projects is to disseminate results and their implementation in regular policy, known as mainstreaming. In order to support projects in this activity, five National Thematic Networks (NTNs) have been created, including an NTN Equal Opportunities.

The NTN Equal Opportunities consists of representatives from government organisations, national centres of expertise, social organisations and independent experts. Appendix II gives an overview of the members of the NTN for the period May 2005 – December 2007.

2.1 Tasks and activities

Important tasks of the NTN include:

a) Identifying obstacles and good practices in order to stimulate equal opportunities policy further;

b) Bringing recommendations to the attention of the correct target groups.

Important activities of the NTN include:

• Monitoring and advising on projects. NTN members have made work visits and reported on them in NTN meetings;

• Organising exchange meetings and working conferences. For instance, a working conference was organised about the dos and don’ts of transnational cooperation;

• Disseminating project results among relevant decision-makers via small-scale activities. Examples include a working dinner with state secretary Bussemaker and a network breakfast to discuss the problems of internship places with representatives from the regional business community.

An overview of the activities the NTN has carried out is included in Appendix III.

–  –  –

The second section of EQUAL Equal Opportunities projects form part of relevant developments that are mentioned in the 2007-2011 policy programme of Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet and the European equal opportunities policy. A short summary is given below of the most important trends within which EQUAL equal opportunities projects operate.1

3.1 Innovative economy The policy programme of Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet emphasises the importance of knowledge and innovation, two key terms that also play a central role in the Lisbon agenda of the European Union. For this reason, it is important to make better use of the potential of women in science and IT. Two projects are explicitly targeted at this aspect: Ict-STER and Participation of women as priority for science.

Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet wants to reduce the administrative burden considerably. This intention was not fulfilled in the implementation of the EQUAL programme. The EU requires extremely detailed accounting, which implies high costs and work pressure.

3.2 Participation society Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet wants to see a substantial increase in labour participation from the current 70% to 80% by 2016. This is necessary in order to absorb the consequences of demographic developments and to keep collective provisions up to scratch. In particular, the potential of those of 45 and over, women and ethnic minorities is currently under-utilised.

The Lisbon agenda and European equal opportunities policy also underline the need for further labour participation, partly to absorb the expected shortages on the labour market.

Various EQUAL projects within the scope of equal opportunities have been targeted at increasing the labour participation of various groups of women. In this respect, attention was devoted to the various types of barrier faced by women. Examples include physical functional requirements in the fire service and discrimination in obtaining work experience placements. The subject of empowerment has also been discussed, for example of minority women and how to enable them to take the first steps on the road to the world outside their homes.

During Balkenende’s Third Cabinet the Social Support Act was introduced. This legislation places greater emphasis on and responsibility with volunteer care. As a result, the combination of professional work and volunteer care can represent bottlenecks for an 1

This paragraph is based on the following literature:

* Balkenende IV 2007-2012 policy programme * Emancipatiebeleid en Gender Mainstreaming Rijksoverheid. Eindrapportage visitaties 2005-2006 (Emancipation policy and Gender Mainstreaming, National Government. Final report of visitations 2005-2006) (Emancipation Visitation Committee, The Hague, 2006) * Emancipation monitor 2006 (SCP The Hague, 2006) * A Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 (European Commission, Brussels, 2006) 8 increasing number of employees in the work/care combination. The On the road to a volunteer care-friendly organisational culture project examines this new problem.

3.3 Emancipation policy The policy programme of Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet intends to give a new boost to emancipation policy. The emancipation process is stagnating in various areas. Without explicit coordination and support, gender mainstreaming and emancipation policy are swallowed up into departments, according to the recent final report by the Emancipation Visitation Committee. Knowledge about gender is inadequate in most departments, according to the Visitation Committee. This is all the more worrying because other institutions that have gender expertise – universities and other knowledge institutions – are facing cutbacks.

EQUAL projects emphasise the importance of this expertise because it helps prevent policy that is developed to be gender-neutral from turning out more disadvantageous to women than to men. Examples of this include the policy geared towards the reintegration of (ex-)prisoners and support for voluntary care givers. Both subjects have been raised in EQUAL projects.

The reduction of unacceptable pay differences between men and women is one of the key points of European Equal Opportunities policy. The policy programme of Balkenende’s Fourth Cabinet also indicates that women are not paid the same for the same work and that these wage differences have to be reduced. This subject is developed in the project entitled Je verdiende loon (Your earned wage).

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