Cohesion is critical in supporting more women in work

02 November 2016

Cohesion is critical in supporting more women in work

Economists at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have found a key EU policy has helped to encourage more Scottish women into employment.

Academics from the University’s WiSE Research Centre studied employment-focused projects in Scotland financed through European Structural Funds. These funds form part of the EU Cohesion Policy, established to reduce social and economic disparities across Europe.

Each project was assessed against its ability to meet ‘gender mainstreaming’, meaning gender equality is core to its aims and objectives.

Economics Lecturer Dr Leaza McSorley, from the Glasgow School for Business and Society, said: “EU Cohesion Policy is at the heart of European Union budgetary debates as it is the policy behind significant structural and investment funds for member states.

“Gender mainstreaming is part of this policy and has delivered tangible benefits in enhancing female employment. All of the Scottish projects we studied had equal opportunities policies in place, but often it is regarded as a matter of compliance more than promoting equality. For gender mainstreaming to be effective there needs to be better data from the outset and clear targets as well as a comprehensive monitoring system.”

Within the EU labour market, women account for the majority of inactive and unemployed people. The EU has set a 75% employment target for all 20-64-year-olds by 2020, but in 2015 the female employment rate in the EU was 64.3%, compared to 72.8% in Scotland.

Dr Jim Campbell, Economics Reader, added: “Scotland is performing well, but the headline statistics do not tell you anything about the quality of employment, ignoring precarious aspects such as the use of part-time positions and zero-hours contracts.

“And cohesion policy projects are under increased pressure to deliver jobs and growth, which could jeopardise its principles of social inclusion and gender equality.”

Their research is published in a new EU Cohesion Policy e-book, which was developed following a Regional Studies Association Research Network workshop at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, which brought researchers together with Members of the European Parliament and policy makers.

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