Austerity and the gender dimension: investing in services to promote equality

Access to essential services is a human right, and everyone will be a service user at some point in their lives. Service cuts are disproportionately hitting women and the most vulnerable members of our societies.

This is why we have recently released a position paper that highlights how service cuts are affecting women’s rights, particularly in relation to employment, health, work-life balance, social inclusion, inclusive growth and safety.

It might not be apparent to everybody that a lack of investment in quality care services such as child care and long-term care disproportionately affects women with dependent family members. This puts pressure on them to reduce their working time or interrupt their careers, ultimately hindering their participation in the labour market.

Reductions in the availability and affordability of health care also have a greater impact on women than men; due to numerous factors including child birth, women rely more heavily on health and social care services across their lives.

In our position we set out a five-step plan to reverse the negative impact that service cuts have had on women:

  • Member States should investment in high quality essential services and social infrastructure aimed at improving women’s employment and contributing to inclusive growth.
  • All resources possible should be utilised to improve women’s and men’s work-life balance – including both non-binding recommendations and binding laws.
  • Gender should be taken into account in all aspects of health policies and services.
  • EU and international instruments affecting services aimed at victims of gender-based violence should be used to their full capacity.
  • Services should be complemented by measures that encourage social inclusion and reduce inequalities, such as regional projects supporting housing for women.
  • EU and international instruments protecting the basic rights of female migrant carers should be fully implemented.

To find out more, read our full position paper here.