FORUM OF WOMEN PARLIAMENTARIANS
Doha, 6 April 2019
ITEM 6 - Panel discussion - Equality at work
Senator Silvia-Monica DINICĂ
The theme proposed for this debate is extremely relevant for my country, for many reasons.
Firstly, because this topic ranks high on Romania’s list of priorities for its current Presidency of the EU Council; our presidency is about cohesion, and cohesion requires equal representation of women and men on the labor market, including in decision-making positions.
This is why, during our European mandate, we focus on ensuring the balance between professional and family life, eliminating the gender pay gap, and fighting gender-based discrimination in the business environment, as a means to ensure equality at work and increase women’s economic independence in the European Union.
Secondly, in terms of domestic policy, we have put in place national programs to develop entrepreneurship among women in the small and medium enterprises sector. These programs support women to set up private economic structures, and help to improve the economic performances of women-led enterprises, as well as the creation of new jobs in these enterprises, by facilitating access to financing from the state budget.
Through the same programs we have put in place an information and training system, with a view to facilitating women’s mobility on the labor market and their participation in private economic structures.
We allocate a special budget for the development of small and medium enterprises and the creation of new jobs in the rural area, where preconceptions about gender division of labor are still very present. At present, in Romania more than one third of the enterprises in the rural area are set up by women.
And this leads me to the third point I want to make: solutions for a gender-balanced participation on the labor market – in terms of jobs, salaries, promotion, access to continuous training, must be designed not only from an economic perspective, but also from a socio-cultural one.
So, when addressing Equality at work, we must take into consideration the perpetuating gender stereotypes that lead to gender disparities in the distribution of political and economic power in society.
Let me recall that according to a recent World Bank report, 2.7 billion women in 104 economies throughout the world are restricted by laws preventing them from working in specific jobs, 59 economies have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and in 18 economies husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.
With these figures in mind, I have a concrete proposal.
Let us have a follow-up to this debate. Let us go back to our countries and check whether our laws need to be revised in order to remove legislative barriers that hinder women’s economic empowerment.
Let us see, for instance, if we can remove those provisions that limit women’s access to certain professional areas considered to be “masculine by nature”. And let us discuss again about this at our next meeting, and see what needs to be done.
Finally, I want to inform you that the Romanian law on equal opportunities for women and men, adopted in 2002, addresses sexual harassment and violence at work. Nevertheless, according to a recent study, 44% of the employees claim that they have been victims of sexual harassment at work at least once during their professional life, the huge majority of them (86%) being women.
And in the near past, hundreds of Romanian migrant women working in agriculture in West European countries have been used as forced labor and sexually exploited by their employers.
There is still much to be done to address this challenge, in law, policies and practice, both nationally and internationally. An ILO standard setting initiative is most welcome, particularly if it will help us stop such abuses before they happen.
Thank you for your attention.