So we consider the economic autonomy of women and their participation in every aspect of the struggle as essential in order to build the anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal alternative that we, women in Europe, need.
Without the inclusion of women, it will not be possible to advance towards a Europe that is built on the basis of equality, in the context of new relations of power between men and women.
The revolutionary process and the necessary change in Europe will not be achieved without taking into account 51 per cent of its citizens. It is fundamental to have parity in the spheres of decision, because in the opinion of the EL, without the participation of women and the feminist movement in this process there will be no real revolution, and its absence cannot and must not be justified by any “order of priorities”.
What is at stake is the emancipation and the freedom of women, in a Europe where the policies of the Troika are constantly putting pressure on governments to reduce wages and working conditions, leading to a growing increase in wage inequality between women and men.
Today, women workers live in situations of extreme job insecurity, suffering super-exploitation in inhuman conditions, and they are less and less protected from corporate abuses. Furthermore, the austerity measures imposed by governments have pushed them towards the underground economy, towards charity and prostitution.
In Europe, the rate of employment for women is 58.5 per cent, compared to 70.1 per cent for men. In the EU, 32.1 per cent of women work on part-time contracts, as against 9 per cent of men. This is an additional form of indirect discrimination.The average wage gap between men and women in the EU is 16.2 per cent and the difference continues to grow. With job insecurity, 21.2 per cent of women in Europe have an income below the minimum wage.
Nor is it a coincidence that low-wage sectors are generally those where women are in the majority and where the gender-based wage gap is widest. In some member states of the EU, collective bargaining agreements continue to discriminate against women, because of insufficient control over the payment of supplementary allowances, thus contributing to the increase in the wage gap, and also because it is still accepted that there are “female” categories.
Women want a decent job, a job based on “equal pay for equal work”, one that respects the personality of women workers and provides a salary that allows for a decent life and access to social benefits, including an adequate pension. That is why we demand an end to imposed part-time work, a reduction in working hours, the sharing of household tasks, quality public-sector jobs in health, education and care for dependence, equal maternity/paternity leave on a European level and the establishment of public facilities for pre-school children.
There cannot be decent jobs in the fields of destruction – such as the arms industries and the armed forces – or in production that damages the environment, wastes natural resources and energy, endangers human health or is based on the exploitation of the human and natural resources of poor countries.
The European Left fights to restore to work its primary function, which is to serve as a use value rather than as capitalist exchange values. Then the social system of productive and reproductive work will serve human wellbeing and produce attractive and useful goods.
For all these reasons, we demand a different Europe, a Europe that guarantees equality and decent work for women.