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The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action were adopted 20 years ago with high hopes for the future. The Platform for Action imagines a world where each woman and girl can exercise her freedoms and choices, and realize all her rights, such as to live free from violence, to go to school, to participate in decisions and to earn equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately, today it remains largely unfulfilled.
Public Services International, the European Federation of Public Service Unions and the international trade union movement therefore demand a bold shift from political leaders; from inaction to targeted investments and labour reforms aimed at building an inclusive labour market that secures women’s equal access to paid and decent work, their representation in decision-making and their ability to access quality public services and quality education.
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary, says:
“Gender equality has not been achieved in the last 20 years. We need a political, social and cultural shift and recognize that pro-women and pro-worker policies will make the difference and trade unions have a key role to play in this process. Empowering women indeed empowers societies.”
Inequality has split the world; 80 per cent of the world’s population lives on less than $10 per day. The wage share of national income has been steadily declining for decades, in parallel with the erosion of labour market institutions. Neo-liberal policies, austerity measures introduced in response to the recent global economic crisis and public spending cuts in developed and developing nations alike have had a disproportionate impact on women and girls.
There has been an unprecedented rise in the share of work that is informal and precarious, in which women are over-represented. Poverty relief and gender equality should be linked to income growth and wages. Equal pay and a living minimum wage should be part of social and economic policy goals.
Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU General Secretary adds:
“This is why in particular the European Union genuinely needs to acknowledge that there is a need to invest in quality care and social infrastructure as the deregulation of economies and privatisation of the public sector have reinforced women’s inequalities, especially within marginalised communities in Europe.”
Redirected investments can provide the funds needed to finance social protection, a living minimum wage, education for all and renewable energy to halt climate change. Therefore, we call for tax justice, an end to tax havens, tax avoidance and corruption, and the addressing of race-to-the-bottom tax incentives and regional tax competition policies.
However, international trade agreements are being negotiated that will have a debilitating impact on regulation in the public interest and pose a serious threat to democracy because those negotiations are taking place without parliamentary scrutiny.
PSI urges Governments to take bold steps to deliver on the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, especially as they negotiate the new sustainable development framework to be adopted in 2015.
We won’t wait another 20 years!