Leo Platvoet

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The feminisation of poverty

Plenary debate, 26 June 2007

doc. 11286

Equal opportunity of education and of work is, of course, a good thing. It is a good thing that our committee exists and publishes such reports. Discussion about the outcome is necessary. We talk about equal salaries for the same work. The report shows that there is structural feminisation of poverty, which should be condemned, but I agree with Mr Hancock that condemnation is not enough. However, the report contains some good proposals to try to combat that.

I think that we all agree that poverty shapes the conditions for children and affects their ability to have a good education and a good life. It is a threshold for women to participate in many fields of life. It makes women vulnerable as well. We should ban discrimination in all kinds of fields, including pensions, getting a loan and salaries. The report is explicit about that.

I want to comment on the remarks of the rapporteur on those issues. All the proposals are directed at what our governments and parliaments should do. Of course much can be improved. As Mr Hancock said, if you talk about the poverty of women, you are also talking about the empowerment of women to change that and their struggle to do so. You are also talking about the politics of the trade unions and the empowerment of women movements that try to fight unequal salaries in court and to use the mechanisms that exist in many countries that forbid unequal pay for the same work. That kind of empowerment is lacking in the report and it is important to stress those issues.

There are men and women working in private companies and in authorities of the state. Should there be some analysis of the responsibility of the state itself in respect of equal opportunities and equal salaries? Should we look at that issue? If you are talking about the struggle for equal opportunities, the state has to set a good example and to prevent inequality.

If you are talking about overcoming the feminisation of poverty, you also have to talk about the social struggle for equal rights to strengthen the position of ordinary people and of the deprived men and women in the social and economic context.