In Europe, the gender equality is a question of justice…. and survival

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The discussion on gender equality is nowadays a highlighted topic in almost any field: social, political,.. and labour, of course. It takes up very prominent places in the more influential mass media. If you want to get pages and pages with recent information about the issue, just search the term “gender equality” or something similar on the Internet.

In Europe, in the theoretical sphere, equality between men and women is an assumed objective from the basic statutes of the Union and member States and, moreover, is a principle with which almost everyone agrees. If you ask anybody about the men and women equality, he or she will generally answer that it is right. Gender equality is a question of justice.

This declaration of principles, both at institutional or individual level, is fantastic. It is a great step forward. Nevertheless, I emphasise that it is an “objective in the theoretical sphere” since, in practice, gender equity is still a very remote goal, even in the most thriving European states [1]. That is, neither the European statutes -in force for decades- nor the citizens´ principles, were a valid roadmap towards the desired men-women equality.

Thus, I think that -at least when it comes to work- behind the current European race towards the gender equity there is some additional reasons to the justice and democratic awareness of people and governors. Gender equality in Europe is a question of mere survival as a response to this:

EUROPEAN COMMISSION – DG ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS. 2011. The 2012 Ageing Report: Underlying Assumptions and Projection Methodologies. Pag 19 y sigs. Consulted 24 Mar 2015

As you see, these graphs show the population pyramids in 2010 and 2060 in the European Union (EU27) and the Eurozone (EA) [2].

“The age structure of the EU population is projected to change dramatically. The most numerous cohorts in 2010 are around 40 years old for men and women. Elderly people are projected to account for an increasing share of the population. At the same time, the middle of the age pyramid becomes smaller during the projection period due to below natural replacement fertility rates. As a consequence, the shape of the population pyramids gradually changes from pyramids to pillars” [2]


“[…] the demographic old-age dependency ratio (people aged 65 or above relative to those aged 15-64) is projected to increase from 26% to 52.5% in the EU as a whole over the projection period. This entails that the EU would move from having four working-age people for every person aged over 65 years to two working-age persons. The increase in the total age-dependency ratio (people aged 14 and below and aged 65 and above over the population aged 15-64) is projected to be even larger, rising from 49.3 in 2010 to 77.9 in 2060 [2]

These are the more relevant data among the huge amount of figures included in the report I used. If you want to go in deep on the issue or check out more charts, graphs of data, I refer you to the document listed at the bottom of this article (reference nº.2).

In the demographic scenario projected for 2060, the current economic and labour organization models are unsustainable. With such an estimated demand of workforces, the group of women workers will become absolutely indispensable and the improvement of their labour conditions, a key issue to solve.

If gender equity in Europe resist to come for social justice reasons (it is harsh to say this), it will come due to economic survival.

[1] ARAGON VALLEY. 20 Mar 2015. Women and work: gender inequality in three striking figures. Consulted 24 Mar 2015.
[2] EUROPEAN COMMISSION - DG ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS. 2011. The 2012 Ageing Report: Underlying Assumptions and Projection Methodologies. Pag 19 et seq. Consulted 24 Mar 2015.