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Promotion of gender equality key to effective EU strategy on Active Ageing, says EWL on occasion of 3rd European Day of Solidarity between Generations

[Brussels, 28 April 2011] As key stakeholders from across the EU gather in Brussels to mark the 3rd European Day of Solidarity between Generations on 29 April, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is calling for more attention to be paid to gender equality in European policies designed to address the challenges of an ageing population across Europe.

Concerns regarding demographic changes and the pressures these are putting upon European social systems in a context of economic slowdown have prompted the European Union (EU) to dedicate 2012 to the promotion of ‘Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations’. The European Women’s Lobby, as an active member of the NGO Coalition for the European Year 2012, welcomes the increased attention to the rights and needs of older persons and to the importance of strong social solidarity to protect the most vulnerable.

Research highlights how in many cases inequalities between women and men are accentuated with age. At present, women’s employment rates decrease rapidly as they age, with only 45% of women between 55 and 64 in employment, as compared to 63% of men in this age category. In addition, a gender pay gap at 18% on average in the EU and long periods spent outside the labour market for caring responsibilities (including for elderly dependents) contribute to women have substantially lower pensions and savings than their male counterparts; 22% of women over 65 live in poverty. Certain groups of women are particularly vulnerable such as those belonging to ethnic minorities or women with disabilities. For example, EUROSTAT figures show that only 25% of women with disabilities are employed as compared to 44% of disabled men.

Implementing comprehensive strategies to combat inequalities between women and men is thus key if the European Union is to reach its goals of increasing employment levels and independence in older age, and the gender dimension is therefore central to the joint leaflet the NGO Coalition for the European Year 2012 will launch on 29 April, and to its recommendations to European policy-makers. ‘Promoting active ageing and solidarity between generations is a worthy and necessary enterprise for the EU’, commented Brigitte Triems, EWL President. ‘We look forward to seeing the development of a fair and sustainable social model which takes into account the rights and needs of all generations and, crucially, of women and men alike, in order to make this vision a reality.’

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