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Gender equality and domestic services provision

On the 27th of October 2021, the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) held a public hearing on “Enhancing gender equality through common European action on care”.

The hearing examined gender aspects of provision of care, especially with regard to uneven distribution of care responsibilities in formal and informal care; the overrepresentation of women in the care sector; the challenges related to this at EU level including the consequences on the gender pay and gender pension gaps; and on the work-life balance and the possible added value of common European action on care.

In her introductory speech, the European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, Dubravka Šuica indicated that the upcoming European Care Strategy should strive towards the affordability, accessibility and sustainability of care services, as well as decent care jobs. Going more into details of what could be expected from the Strategy, Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, underlined both the high job creation

Different experts presented their experiences, analysis and suggestions. Among them, EFSI’s Director, Aurélie Decker took part in the public hearing. She highlighted PHS sector’s contribution to gender equality and work-life balance. She also stressed the undervaluation and lack of recognition of the sector which led to the prevalence of undeclared work and low working conditions in a sector in which 91% of the workforce is female. Aurélie Decker thus presented key recommendations for EU-level initiatives.

During the debate that followed experts’ presentation, MEPs stressed the strong linkage between the care economy and gender equality. They called for care revaluation thanks to better working conditions and better wages for care occupations but also thanks to the recognition of the value of paid and unpaid care. EU fundings – and in particular the Recovery and Resilience Fund – should earmark investment in care. Finally, the issue of affordability and regional disparities in access to care has also been stressed as a priority of the future European Care Strategy by MEPs.

Watch the public hearing here (recording available in 16 EU languages). Experts presentations are also available here.