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NUMERO 10 - 16/05/2012

 Women and the financial crisis

With respect to the economic crisis that has gripped European economic systems and particularly our Country for the last few years the situation of women is characterized by a double paradox. One of the possible ways to get out of the crisis would be to utilize more women in the labor world. However, this way is rather difficult as women are the first to be hit by an economic crisis. Secondly, the main problem is not the policies but the cultural structure which policies stem from. If the first way does not change there will not be any changes in the second way. During the period before the crisis, in Italy 47% of working age women worked, the lowest female employment figure in Europe after Malta (the data refers to 2008). Furthermore, the situation changes over the National territory; the percentage of women working in the north was 56% compared with 31% in the South (including undeclared work). Government investments in the educational sector in the previous period had brought about an increase in the employment of women. However, the female graduate employment rate was lower than the male graduate one (and lower than the European average). Even though women were employed men climbed up the career ladder more than women and they were paid less even though they carried out the same tasks as men. The above mentioned situation was mainly due to two factors: firstly, the economic and political cultural situation, generally speaking, was not particularly keen on employing women. Companies firmly believed that women spent more time on household tasks and therefore had to be paid less and they were not valued as much as men. The second cause was due to the fact that conciliation policies were still poorly developed compared to those in other European countries and mainly geared towards early childhood. They did not take into account issues such as caring for school age children and the elderly. However, the EU went on pushing ahead and greatly influenced the National situation, described above. The principal push was the launching of the “Lisbon Strategy” in 2000 by the homonymous Council of Europe that sustained a number of economic and social goals among which was to rise female employment increasing it from 51% to 60% by 2010. The latest E.U regulation dealing with maternity and parental leave has moved in the same direction. Furthermore, “Womenomics”, so called by the Economist in 2006, has spread over the past few years; that is, the theory where work carried out by women is the most important engine in world development. This theory is supported by studies carried out by the American economist, Freeman, who believed the American economic miracle of the 90’s was the propelling element for the growth of female participation on the labor market in the 80’s and 90’s... (segue)

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