Policies on Gender Equality – the Driving Force for Social and Economic Development
Andorra la Vella, Andorra, 17 and 18 June 2010
Policies on gender equality act as a driving force for social and economic development in the countries that apply them, which means that we have to view them not as policies that increase public expenditure but as a public investment with a high level of social gains.
The gender inequalities that exist in modern society are due to an inherited and outdated social and cultural model which assigns stereotypes and roles to people within the family and in society according to their sex rather than their abilities. As a result, women and men come to occupy different positions in society and in the labour market, leading to a lack of women in the public arena, which is where decisions are taken and the rules of society are established.
All of the above creates a difference in power between women and men. This is perpetuated by socialisation and can only be corrected by mechanisms that guarantee equal opportunities, or in other words, what we call policies on gender equality.
The social model of the supporting husband and more or less dependent wife is not only unjust but also economically unsustainable, particularly for women living alone or single-parent families, which are mostly headed by women.
A sustainable society is a society that takes into consideration, among other factors, the needs and the quality of life of the people that make up the society. The quality of life of a person requires a balance between the time dedicated to duties, to the family as well as to work and personal fulfilment.
Some companies have also started to understand that there is a direct link between their productivity and the quality of life of the people on their payroll, and that the incorporation of women in positions of responsibility increases innovation and competitiveness.
The current economic crisis, fuelled by a financial sector dominated mainly by men, endangers the successes achieved year after year, decade after decade, in the field of policies on gender equality, because a slowdown of economic activity could be used to justify a limitation or reduction of equality measures. This crisis, however, can also become an opportunity to implement changes. It is often said that an economic crisis such as the current one provides the greatest opportunity for imagination and work. Investing in policies on gender equality is a pre-requisite for a sustainable growth in employment, competitiveness and social cohesion.
Therefore, the Socialist International Women calls on national, regional and local governments to:
Promote gender equality plans and policies in companies to reconcile family and work, providing incentives for men to perform family duties and promoting maternity and paternity leave on an equal basis;
Reform education in order to overcome sexist stereotypes and promote policies to achieve gender equality in the labour market, overcoming discrimination and pay differences;
Invest in the training and promotion of women and apply policies to integrate women in the labour market;
Invest in adequate and accessible social services, such as nurseries and care for dependents, so that women can remain in the labour market on an equal footing with men, while at the same time creating new jobs;
Apply and implement gender budgeting in order to increase gender equality in the above mentioned policies and reduce the existing inequality, and
Ensure that, if budgetary cuts need to be made due to the current economic crisis, these should not in any way affect policies aimed at achieving gender equality, such as education and social services.
Finally, the Socialist International Women calls on all member parties of the Socialist International to promote measures to gradually reach parity (50/50) of women and men in all decision making bodies, starting by a minimum quota of 30% for women and men in all elected positions, as well as within the leadership of the party, but also setting time bound targets to reach as soon as possible a 50/50 representation with the aim to equally include women’s views in politics and therefore endeavour to deliver a socially just, sustainable and balanced development.