human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

Equal rights, equal duties!

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Caritas Europa asks European institutions and governments to break stereotypes regarding parental care responsibilities in families by adopting the proposed EU legislation on work-family life balance.

After the birth of our first daughter, I decided to take extra months of parental leave after my maternity leave to take care of her. The choice was influenced by the fact that my job situation was less secure and my wage was lower than my husband’s and that paid parental leave was not an option in the organisation he worked in. Then our second child was born and I ended up staying at home for good. I hope that my daughter and her future husband will have more options when they will have children.

Lisbeth, 53, Belgium

The current proposal for an EU Directive on work-family life balance presents a unique opportunity to reduce the gaps between fathers and mothers in terms of employment, pay and care responsibilities, to facilitate the choice of having children and to promote women’s labour market participation. Moreover, research indicates that a better balance between work and family life is an investment that leads to happier workers and increased productivity, decreasing staff turnover and absenteeism at work.

It is of crucial importance to get this right: women and men have equal rights. That also means equal obligations when it comes to sharing childcare and domestic work in the family. A better work-family life balance benefits not only families by decreasing the gaps between men and women, but also companies and the economy as employee’s are more motivated.

Shannon Pfohman, Caritas Europa’s Policy and Advocacy Director

It is now time that the Council and the European Parliament reach an agreement on the proposal for the work-family life balance Directive and ensure a decent remuneration of parental leave for at least four months per parent. By adopting this Directive, they can prove their commitment to move towards a more social Europe, as pledged during the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017. Let’s not forget that family is a vital cell of society!

Notes to editor:

  • The Caritas Europa publication “Social justice and equality in Europe – is possible!” lays down the three main building blocks of Caritas’ vision for resilient social models in Europe that provide for the well-being of all people: family, inclusive labour market, and social security. Based on the analysis of social realities on the ground, this vision is in line with the benefits that the work-family life balance Directive will bring to Europeans.