Published: Gender and European Social Rights and Social Citizenship

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EuSocialCit Report Gender and European Social Rights and Social Citizenship

EuSocialCit scholars – Iga Magda and Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak (SGH) have published a report on social rights and social citizenship from a gender perspective. The report, based on the results of the EUSOCIALCIT project, sheds light on how access to and use of social rights differ for men and women, and how the EU can support and complement Member States’ activities in the area of gender equality.

Gender disparities persist across Europe in various aspects, including wages, employment opportunities, welfare entitlements, time allocation for caregiving responsibilities, and economic independence.  The significant changes in family structure and gender roles have generated new social needs over the past decades, and critics of the mainstream welfare state argued their social transfer programs were built in favor of the male breadwinner model. To counteract this male breadwinner model, social-investment-related family programs were introduced, including childcare and maternity and parental leave, facilitating a more gender-equitable combination of work and family. The paper aims to show how the EU can further support and complement Member States’ activities in the area of gender equality in such policy domains as social investment, fair working conditions, work-life balance, and minimum income protection. It sheds light on social rights and social citizenship from a gender perspective, based on the results of the EUSOCIALCIT project. This includes discussing to what extent the access and use of power resources considered (normative, instrumental, enforcement resources) differ for social groups, men and women in particular.

Particular attention is paid to Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC)  and the role it plays in gender equality. ECEC has a great potential to help parents (and especially mothers) reintegrate into the labor market, to support future adults’ development, and, overall, to contribute towards reducing societal inequalities. It also matters for grandparents, who are more likely to withdraw from the labor market to provide informal care if formal is lacking. ECEC is also associated with lower poverty.

The paper also includes a discussion of public opinion on social citizenship and its gender perspective, as well as a summary of interlinkages between gender and poverty and gendered life course and vulnerability. A separate section is dedicated to the analysis of work-life balance directive and its consequences and expectations it raises. The work-life balance directive (WLBD) has a strong potential to increase the role of fathers in care, and thereby, to enhance possibilities for mothers to retain and strengthen their link to the labor market. In this regard, policymakers have increasingly paid attention to closing this gender care gap. It is instrumental to encourage fathers to participate more in care duties in order to close the care gender gap. Two key policies which are used to encourage fathers’ participation in care duties are paternity leave and parental leave. Paternity leave refers to leave that fathers take around the birth of their child. Parental leave refers to leave that parents may take to care for their young child.

The final section of this paper presents conclusions and policy recommendations. The crucial ones concern ECEC availability, affordability, accessibility, and quality,  their monitoring, and benchmarking. They also include a discussion of work-life balance directive and levels of compensation for the paternity earmarked leave, which is important to lead to higher leave taken up by fathers.