Labour markets across the European Union (EU) were severely impacted by the recession with a record high average unemployment rate of 10.7%. Nevertheless, effects of the crisis differ across Member States (MS) and also present different pictures for men and women.
The crisis has been repeatedly considered “male-dominated” as men’s unemployment figures rose more dramatically in the recession’s early stages. Yet, economists fear the effect of the crisis on women will soon start to reveal itself. They contend that women would be more vulnerable to the later effects of the crisis, given the nature of their employment contracts and the implications of austerity measures on the sectors that employ them, such as care and welfare, of which they are also the main beneficiaries.
Holding equality as one of its central values, the EU has acknowledged the deteriorating effects of the crisis on women. However, stakeholders doubt that their response to the crisis to date, has been “gender mainstreamed”. This practice would guarantee that the anti-crisis measures would have equal effects, and analysts put forward other policy recommendations such as boosting women’s participation in decision-making and entrepreneurship. These ideas seem to be supported by the European Parliament (EP) in a number of documents and most specifically in its 2010-report on the gender aspects of the financial crisis.