Sustainable Illusions?

Women's Labour Market Participation in the EU: Obstacles and Policy Levers

Sep 19th, 2022
Katarina Jaklin & Dora Levačić

The EU has a long tradition of – in what it says at least – supporting women’s labour-market participation and promoting social security policies. The EU’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are among its most recent attempts to achieve this, with the SDGs’ promise to end “all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere”. Have such policies yielded any substantive results when it comes to improving women’s economic position?

Focusing on four European countries, this report shows that it is still largelywomen who take on the burden of care work, which in turn negatively impacts their prospects on the labour market. Gender inequality, in other words, still persists despite some positive trends. For real change to happen, a radically different approach from the one suggested by the SDGs is needed. This approach must be based on transformative feminist policies that prioritise the quality of work and reproductive work, as well as tackling ongoing trends such as the individualisation of care, the dismantling of the welfare state and the weakening of trade unions.

Sustainable Illusions? Interview with Katarina Jaklin and Dora Levačić