International Women’s Day 2017 – “Women’s economic empowerment: Let’s act together!”

International Women’s Day 2017 – “Women’s economic empowerment: Let’s act together!”

Posted on March 9, 2017

On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) held an inter-parliamentary committee meeting dealing with the economic empowerment of women, which the EFN followed closely, with debates and workshops focussing on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, women in political and economic decision-making, and work-life balance. On a more global perspective, the issues of freedom from violence as a pre-condition for empowerment and the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals were highlighted. The workshops provided a global forum to the national gender equality leaders, the EU Stakeholders, and the national and EU policy makers, for exchange of experiences and best practices in advancing the women’s economic situation.

Equality between women and men is one of the objectives of the European Union. Over the years, legislation, case-law and changes to the Treaties have helped supported this principle and its implementation in the EU. But a lot still needs to be done to make this objective attained. Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, stated that “As long as women are victims of violence, discrimination, mutilation, forced to marriage, while they are excluded from education, the world of labour, economy, and politics, as well as from important posts, we need to struggle 365 days/year to make sure that, in the EU and outside the EU, the women’s fundamental rights are respected. We can’t meet the main challenges we face – war, poverty, unemployment – without having first genuine equality between men and women.”

From a nursing perspective, consisting of 92% of women, it is crucial that nurses/women have a stronger voice in the design of health and social policies. This will allow to build a resilient health and social ecosystem. And nurses/women are ideally positioned to both lead and support such developments. Many Member States are introducing reforms of the health and social sector designed to improve the relevance, sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the current ‘silo system’, which is not sensitive enough towards gender. Policy-makers and politicians have here a golden opportunity to ensure that the reform process addresses the problems of the long-standing inequality between women and men, both as providers and as recipients of care.

Furthermore, Horizon 2020 pays particular attention to gender. But it is necessary that science includes more evidence from women than is currently the case. Research outcomes and opportunities can be biased towards women, which can be countered by including the nursing profession’s views when reforming the healthcare system. Whilst we continue to build systematic understanding of lifestyle and patient outcomes, we miss gender sensitive and responsive research in healthcare. As Tajani said “It is only by giving the possibility to women to express themselves that we will have a safer & fairer world”.