International Women’s Day – “Gender Equality in Health Workforce”

International Women’s Day – “Gender Equality in Health Workforce”

Posted on March 7, 2017

Equitable wise labour law reforms will be a first step in building a more social inclusive Europe. Considering all policy domains, an increase in women’s ability to access and participate in the labour market is needed. In this process of building the accessibility, national and European Parliaments play a crucial role in designing the overall conditions for women’s empowerment to both political and economic areas. Moreover, considering that the nursing workforce, the biggest group of the Healthcare professions, is mainly composed by women, then we can say that the Nurses’ voice at EU level is key to get gender equality in the health workforce.

Since 2008, when the economic crisis started, the EFN and its 36 Member Associations have observed the negative effects on nurses and nursing: reduction in nurses’ posts, nurses’ pay cuts and salary freezes, diminished recruitment and retention rates, compromises in quality of care and patient safety. Taking that into account, the EFN developed an in deep analysis among 34 EU countries, measuring these specific indicators. The key conclusion of this EFN report “EFN Report on “Caring in Crisis – the Impact of the Financial Crisis on Nurses and Nursing”(June 2012) shows that we cannot ignore the need for change and the urgent need for a strategic vision for this reform, and nurses/women are part of the equation.

Therefore, the EFN has been lobbying hard the EU Institutions to make the voice of 3 million nurses/women heard. And the work of the FEMM Committee is appreciated to forecast this progress in the EU! Two MEPs, Krisztina Moravi and Pimenta Lopes (GUE/NGL, PT) have called on reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps, and thus fighting poverty among women, so important for the nurses in the EU. On 28 February, the MEP Krisztina Moravi, addressed more in deep the difficulties encountered by Eastern European nurses:

  • difficulties achieving work life balance, due to long working hours;
  • increase mobility of nurses from Eastern to Western Europe;
  • poverty wages payed to nurses from Eastern countries;
  • migration of qualified nurses towards low qualified jobs, due to the non-recognition of their professional qualifications.

The working conditions disparities, and the non-harmonised legislation regarding the recognition of professional qualifications for the healthcare workforce is a core topic of EFN. Reasoning with Krisztina Moravi on those crucial topics for the nursing profession, the EFN gave her the EFN´s report on “Caring in Crisis” and the EFN Competency Framework, providing the MEP the needed argumentation in order to continue to mention nurses/women key difficulties at political high level. The members of FEMM Committee valued this input and support provided by EFN and is looking forward to a fruitful collaboration.

On 8 March 2017, the International Women’s Day, the theme of economic empowerment will dominate the discussions during the FEMM Committee’s meeting. The EFN will follow closely the five workshops organised on this occasion, fully in line with the EU 2030 Agenda, aiming to contribute to advancing women’s economic empowerment in the changing world, and to ensuring women’s full participation in the labour market, being also debated at global level by the UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment:

  • Women in STEM: progress stalled or being eroded?
  • Global perspective: freedom from violence and empowerment
  • Gender-sensitive policy making at the core of inclusive growth
  • Shall we wait a century to achieve work life balance for women and men?”
  • Global Perspective: Women’s Economic Empowerment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Therefore, the EFN is calling the national and EU Parliaments, due to their unique position, to address gender inequalities within budgets, laws and policies, involving nurses/women in this process. Nurses/women leadership can lead to more equal participation at the economic, social and political life. The improvement of labour legislation, the increase of salaries, the promotion of collective bargaining, and the protection of maternity, are amongst some of the most needed measures to achieve gender equality.

Nurses have a clear view on how the health and social sector should reform, lead reform, not in a disruptive way! In ‘The EU, What’s in it for me?’, a clear picture is given on how nurses see the future of the EU, including the importance of gender in the design of EU policies.

The EFN really hopes that the Employment Committee final vote on 25th of April 2017 will not disappoint women!