A hearing on “Women in the Public Space” took place at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

On Monday, 23 January 2017, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) organised a hearing on “The women in the public space”. The guest speakers were Paolo Profeta, professor of public finance at the University of Milan, and Lella Golfo, president of the Foundation Bellisario de Rome, by videoconference.

According to the 2016 Davos World Economic Forum, currently no State is close to achieve the objective of gender equality on important decision, economic and political positions. Women are underrepresented (less than 40%) on executive functions, still face important constraints to find a job and wage differentials are significant.

In order to correct this situation, the speakers argued, there are many determinant factors over which it is necessary to take action. In particular, women often have better education than men, but they are less represented on scientific disciplines.

Regarding the topic of maternity, FAFCE notes that it cannot be considered as an obstacle to career development and that, as remarked by the speakers, discrimination may already exist at the recruitment phase, depending on the position.

The speakers proposed then some solutions, which could augment economic productivity and raise demographic growth, thanks to an improvement of wellbeing, both at work and in the family. Notably, they suggest developing family policies for a better child care from an early age by increasing the availability of nurseries with the possibility of breastfeeding on the spot; promoting social mobility; adopting fiscal measures that favour an early return to employment after birth; promoting paternity leave, thus contributing to a better sharing of tasks between the couple and a more harmonious development of the child; and increasing the flexibility to balance work and family life.

Questioned by FAFCE, the President of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Elena Centemero (EPP, Italy), Rapporteur of a draft Resolution on ”Women’s empowerment in the economy”, stressed that “the role of women in the economy should be promoted in enterprises, in companies’ boards and in the public sector. The culture of parity between women and men in the economic world has social impact and a remarkable value added. Women and men have also an important role in the family, on children’s growth and on support to elderly people. These are tasks that should be valued and protected. Maternity and paternity are very important social values for the future of Europe and the world. Equal opportunities between women and men mean more opportunities for everyone”.