This week the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM) adopted its Opinion on European anti-poverty policy, which Julie drafted and coordinated.
MEPs urged the European Commission to adapt a European anti-poverty strategy. It called work together with national governments to ensure that the European target of lifting 20 million European citizens out of poverty is met by 2020. Without addressing gender inequalities, that target cannot be met.
In Europe today, women and dependent children, are disproportionately at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The Opinion, which is entitled “Meeting the Anti-Poverty Targets in Light of Rising Household Costs”, addressed the misguided austerity policies which structurally harm and disadvantage women by cutting the services they tend to rely on, while on the other hand slashing jobs in female-dominated sectors.
The drafting and amendment process including discussions with grassroots British and European NGOs, with local and international experts on the subject. All of them pointed to a broad policy toolbox, and for greater action needed by governments and European institutions.
The Opinion focused on the need for a holistic approach to poverty, emphasising the many inter-connected factors that lead to it, and a varied toolbox that is required to alleviate it, to empower the women that are affected by it, and to give them a renewed bid for participation, well-being, and prosperity.
These tools include gender-sensitive public service provision, empowerment of girls and women in all stages of life through education in sectors where they are underrepresented, and a macroeconomic policy that takes into account gender imbalances in society. Specifically, the Opinion addressed the growing problem of energy poverty, requesting that the European Commission insert a gender-sensitive definition of the problem into its legislation, and take legislative action on housing renovation. Likewise, funding must be made available to address energy poverty in a manner that prioritises the plight of low-income single-parent households, who are overwhelmingly women.
The Commission must adopt an ambitious gender-sensitive plan to alleviate poverty across the EU, issue recommendations to national governments, and share best practice. National governments must be more ambitious and set out detailed gender-sensitive plans that alleviate poverty, and address vulnerability of women to poverty and social exclusion.
Julie will now be working together with colleague MEPs in the European Parliament’s Employment Committee in order to have a strong Report on anti-poverty policy adopted this March. Julie will be continuing to work on the subject, and pushing for the implementation of anti-poverty policy.