On the occasion of Women´s International Day, I have been invited to participate as President of WICCI Business Council India-Spain (Women Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) in WEF Europe, WICCI councils.
I addressed the challenges that women are facing during COVDI19 and the possible solutions to build true women empowerment from a renewed European Union. “A new Europe demands an innovative women empowerment”
COVID19 is working as a panoptical that allows us to look at multiple crises from different lenses, including women empowerment that is also under crisis. This exercise leads us directly to the center of many of the reasons why we are not entered into resilience, that is the European Union centralized and bureaucratic structure.
If we make the parallel with the last global financial crisis 2008 we realize that we are repeating the same pattern of lack of financial sustainability. Being submitted to a steady vulnerability is not sustainable and makes us being under fragile financial stability. Among European countries, stabilization has been achieved, although not through consolidation on resilience. The European Union has built steadily on a philosophy of Union, however not an action on cohesion. As a consequence, it becomes weaken each time that is hit by a crisis –financial, migration, security, pandemic, etc.-and is it when we suffer from their lack of resilience. The result is devastating, and not only on the economic/financial side but also in terms of credibility in the European system. Creating a wave of distrust or even worse, exit movements. Renewing Europe supposes a firm renew of confidence that joint action, or furthermore an “even closer union” will deliver resilience better than each country individually considered.
A change of the system is imperative within new leaderships, creative enough to allow new focuses through an innovative structure and holistic approaches.
The current centered structure supposes a factor to fail in terms of delivering a results-driven strategy, is it so, that we consider key to decentralized and reshape EU national representation offices. The balance of power and a sense of ownership is what also prevents exit movements, mainly because each country will be able to search for their solutions according to their culture and specific needs. Calling all actors on stage is an asset that currently is only part of a dialogue, instead of a driver to change, strategically institutionalized. The idea of strategic partnerships is the key to search for effective solutions as well as to deliver confidence from a democratic process that attends to local demands from a constant and active exchange.
Public-private-civil society: all together to deliver innovative solutions from a joint action philosophy and sense of ownership of the different political processes.
Concerning women empowerment, the European Union has achieved a true system of “gender mainstreaming” focus that supposes a turning point for a future based on equality. However, is it not until we face a crisis that we realize that the system is no responsive enough and women become more vulnerable than men.
Just to see data and get to conclusions: women have been impacted harder than men:
74% of 49 million care workers in the European Union are women, as well as
95% domestic cleaners and helpers
93% childcare workers and teacher´s aid
86% personal care workers and health services.
84% of working women are employed on services as following: child care, retail, hospitality, and tourism. All services have collapsed precisely because of COVID19.
Is it so that we conclude that precarious job is the weaken pillar that is expected for women shortly within Europe despite all the work done towards gender equality. Besides, most of the part-time jobs are for women (32% to 8% men) also inactivity in the labor market is because women take responsibilities to care of family, different from men. Personal decisions mark a huge difference from men and impact women empowerment professionally.
I very much welcome initiatives as Women Economic Forum because they are giving a voice to the civil society in a historical momentum of collapse from institutions. Refreshing a rusty scenario by new approaches coming from the real actors. Simply, strategic partnerships that contribute to keeping the balance of power: public-private-civil society.
The balance will deliver prosperity.