Leo Platvoet

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Discrimination against women in the workforce and the workplace and in sport

Documents 10484 and 10483

plenary session 27 April 2005

I congratulate both rapporteurs on their valuable reports, which emphasise the gap between law and reality. Discrimination against women in the labour market and in the workplace is still widespread. The opportunity to earn their own living is very important for women, enabling them to obtain independence, participate in society and live on their own. It is also important for society as a whole to have the equal representation of both sexes in all fields.

Ms ČurdovŠís report underlines the fact that there is still much to do. If one looks at the raw unemployment statistics for men and women, one can draw the conclusion that there is far higher unemployment for women, but that is only half, or even a quarter, of the story. We must look at the definition of unemployment. If women do not register as being willing to work, they are left out of the figures. Many women work part time, so there is hidden unemployment. Women who work are often paid less than men who do the same job. They also have lower-ranking jobs. The draft recommendation proposes measures to be taken by the Committee of Ministers. Importantly, some of those measures deal with the equal division of work between the sexes in the workplace and in the household.

As well as improving laws and implementing and monitoring them, it is important that all countries have anti-discrimination boards so that both women and men can register complaints about discrimination and obtain justice. It is disappointing that the recommendations do not make such a proposal. I should have tabled an amendment, but I was unable to do so. However, it is important to set up anti-discrimination boards in countries where they do not yet exist. We have them in Holland, and we have had positive experiences of them.

Discrimination against women and girls in sport is another important issue. There is a work force in sport, so both reports share common ground. It is ridiculous, for instance, that women are paid less than men when they win a marathon. The draft recommendation makes some good proposals on improving the participation of women in sport and in sports organisations, not only in top-flight sport but, more importantly, in recreational sport. If womenís input in sport increases, their output will also improve with better results and more female sporting icons. However, I do not agree with the final recommendation in paragraph 5.i. Under European standards, we have a free press, so I do not see how governments can increase the coverage of women in sports in the media. Only better results will achieve that.