and occupational mobility of women
Report:  Licia Ronzulli (A7-0164/2013)
Report on educational and occupational mobility of women in the EU
[2013/2009(INI)]. Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality.
on educational and occupational mobility of women in the EU(2013/2009(INI))
The European Parliament
–   having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Articles 2 and 3 thereof,
–   having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 8, 45, 165 and 166 thereof,
–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 21, 23 and 25 thereof,
–   having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),
–   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(1)
–   having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),
–   having regard to the Commission communication of 23 November 2010 entitled ‘An Agenda for new skills and jobs: A European contribution towards full employment’ (COM(2010)0682),
–   having regard to the Commission communication of 9 June 2010 entitled ‘A new impetus for European cooperation in Vocational Education and Training to support the Europe 2020 strategy’ (COM(2010)0296),
–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on promoting workers’ mobility within the European Union,(2)
–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,
–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A7-0164/2013),
A.  whereas the right to live and work in another country of the European Union is one of the Union’s fundamental freedoms guaranteed to European Union citizens by the Treaty on European Union and whereas mobility is a multifaceted phenomenon having economic, social and family dimensions;
B.  whereas workers’ mobility and educational mobility help to deepen people’s attachment to their European citizenship; and at the same time constitute a European principle for achieving cohesion and solidarity across the EU;
C.  whereas the Erasmus Programme, which since 1987 has made it possible for more than 2.2 million European Union citizens to study abroad can also make an especially positive contribution to cross-border worker mobility after the study period, and whereas the growth in education and vocational training for women is increasing their mobility;
D.  whereas the economic and financial crisis has negatively affected the EU labour market, especially as regards employment rates and the possibility of moving freely and choosing employment according to one’s educational and professional qualifications, with women being one of the worst-affected groups;
E.   whereas, according to the most recent available data, the female unemployment rate in the European Union is 10.7% (or 22.7% in the case of women under the age of 25);
F.   whereas occupational mobility is a strategic objective of the European Union, as it increases the efficiency of the single market and helps to improve professional skills and employment levels, which are key factors of economic and social progress;
G.  whereas there are significant gender differences as regards workers’ mobility within the EU – men move for jobs or job transfers far more often than women do (44 % compared with 27 %), while women are more often obliged to take a career break in connection with a long-distance move in order to follow their partner;
H.  whereas gender segregation on the labour market, lack of adequate working conditions, the gender pay gap, inadequate measures to balance family and work life, persistent stereotypes and the risk of gender-based discrimination, are the major obstacles to women’s occupational mobility; whereas factors related to family, the considerable differences between family benefits available in the various Member States, social networks, care facilities for children and other dependants – particularly the absence or inadequacy of public networks of day nurseries, crèches and public provision of free-time activities for children – housing and local conditions, and other obstacles (language, lack of awareness of rights) are additional barriers preventing women from exercising the right of free movement, residence and work throughout Europe;
I.    whereas women are exposed to social risks more often in their lifetime than men, the result of which is the growing feminisation of poverty; whereas the most recent estimates suggest that in the EU women’s salaries are on average 16.4 % lower than men’s, and that there are major differences between Member States, with the wage gap varying between 1.9 % and 27.6 %(3);
J.    whereas multidimensional policy solutions incorporating lifelong learning, the reconciliation of professional, family and personal life (particularly for single mothers), combating precarious work and promoting jobs including full rights entitlements, a public healthcare network, a public social security network and differentiated work organisation practices at women’s request are needed in order to improve the integration of women into the labour market;
K.  whereas a high-quality education provides women with better employment prospects, improved skills and key competences in a given field; whereas it also facilitates their participation in society and cultural activities and ensures better pay on the labour market;
L.   whereas educational mobility helps to foster occupational mobility and increase labour market opportunities and must be available to all, including women with a low level of qualifications;
1.   Emphasises the need to increase awareness of the situation of women of all age groups in the context of the EU’s policies on education, social integration, means to balance family and working life, migration and employment, poverty, health care and in its social protection policies, to protect the rights of women, to promote equality and equal employment opportunities for men and women, to ensure safe working conditions, equal access and career opportunities including the application of the same criteria for selection in matters of employment, to concentrate more on the situation of women in the decision-making process and to combat all forms of discrimination in the labour market, such as occupation segregation or wage discrimination, in particular by promoting lifelong learning, combating precarious employment and promoting work with rights, working hours that are compatible with a work-life balance, a public healthcare network and social security system, and differentiated practices for the organisation of working time, at the woman’s request;
2.   Emphasises that educational and occupational mobility has been recognised as offering added value to the EU; stresses that the economic crisis is making it increasingly necessary to adapt one’s choice of occupation to what is available on the labour market, and that it is increasingly vital for women to be more adaptable to the demands of new career opportunities when changing occupations;
3.   Considers that fostering the educational and occupational mobility of women can contribute to the achievement of the Europe 2020 headline target of raising the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64 to 75 %, through, for example, the greater participation of young people, older workers and low-skilled workers and the better integration of migrants;
4.   Calls on the Member States to include provisions to ensure transparency and awareness in the area of women’s rights and the rights of their family members in respect of mobility when designing their national strategies and reform programmes;
5.   Considers that professional mobility must not be unfavourable to women where social rights are concerned and that it is therefore necessary to guarantee the continuation and transfer of pension rights under the public social security system between countries, while recognising the diversity of pension regimes throughout the EU;
6.   Calls on the Member States to collect and analyse data on the difficulties, scale and structure of women’s mobility, to draw attention to and promote the benefits of employment mobility on their national markets and the benefits of educational and employment mobility in foreign countries; calls on the Commission and Member States to monitor the situation of agencies and organisations offering jobs to workers from other Member States and to detect potential illegal or undeclared employment, or agencies or organisations providing fictitious jobs;
7.   Calls on the Member States to report on gender data in relation to occupational mobility and to include provisions to advance gender equality in terms of occupational mobility when designing their national policies and their National Reform Programmes (NRPs), with specific attention to the programming and implementation of national or regional level operational programmes funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) for the 2014-2020 programming period and beyond; recalls its resolution of 23 October 2012 endorsing the Commission’s proposal to earmark 25 % of the total cohesion policy allocation to the ESF(4);
8.   Stresses that, if this issue is a specific objective within these programmes, or appears as a special horizontal priority, good practices will start to show up and measures will yield results at regional and/or local level;
9.   Points out that, in order to boost employment, greater attention must be paid to cross-border cooperation, the exchange of best practices between educational institutions and professional bodies in the Member States, and that school systems must become more equal and inclusive;
10. Calls on the Member States to step up efforts and cooperation with special emphasis on access to information and advice to combat the human trafficking carried out by international networks that recruit workers, especially women, by falsely promising them jobs that do not actually exist and result in situations involving sexual exploitation and forced labour or services (begging, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the exploitation of criminal activities, or the removal of organs);
11. Points out that mobility should be based on gender equality and combating discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, origins, religious beliefs, age and state of health;
12. Points out that women moving abroad for jobs in domestic service and involving care for children or disabled or elderly people are often employed without a contract or work illegally, and consequently have no rights or entitlement to social security, healthcare, an adequate pension or other benefits in relation to pension contributions;
13. Calls on the social partners, Member States and the Commission to support the improvement of gender equality elements in collective agreements, amongst others, by promoting the right to flexible working hours, childcare facilities, mentoring of women workers, measures to increase women’s representation in collective bargaining negotiations and by assessing the impact of collective agreements on women;
14. Calls on the Member States to: monitor the situation of workers who care for children and other dependants; provide enough information to women moving abroad to take on such jobs, including information on access to declared work and training in the relevant area, on social rights, on healthcare, etc.; provide these women with advice on declared jobs and warn them of the possible dangers of the illegal labour market;
15. Emphasises that European policies must also take into account the living and working conditions of women moving away for seasonal jobs in agriculture, especially as regards the need for adequate accommodation, social protection, medical insurance and healthcare, a balance between family and working life, and a decent wage; stresses the need to combat the exploitative situations that many of these women experience;
16. Points out that women moving abroad for employment are often offered the lowest-ranked jobs on the labour market in terms of skills, pay and prestige, and that women’s labour migration is often concentrated in a few female-dominated occupations associated with traditional gender roles; calls on the Member States, therefore, to endeavour to encourage adequate contractual arrangements and discourage excessive reliance on non-standard employment contracts;
17. Calls on the Member States to work together to find solutions to prevent or compensate for the effects that occupational mobility has on some Member States in certain areas (such as the mobility of medical personnel, who are predominantly women) and which may affect human rights in the Member States of origin;
18. Considers that enabling women moving abroad to enjoy portable social security rights is essential to ensuring that they effectively benefit from the prerogatives they have acquired.
19. Draws attention to the considerable differences between Member States in terms of family benefits and social rights, and points out that these variations can present a real obstacle to the occupational mobility of men and women with dependent families;
20. Calls on Member States to ensure reciprocal recognition of diplomas and professional qualifications and to facilitate the simplification of recognition procedures;
21. Points out that in cases where it is not recognition itself that is the main problem but rather the protracted nature of the procedure necessary for recognition, this may give rise to a faulty start in the new host environment in the EU;
22. Expresses its concern at the high level of ‘brain-waste’ among women, i.e. under-use of the qualifications possessed by women moving abroad, which is particularly apparent in the highly feminised sectors of nursing and domestic work;
23. Stresses the need to ensure clear rules are in place to facilitate women’s access to senior management positions and notes that increasing the number of women on management boards increases competitiveness and productivity; welcomes, therefore, the Commission proposal to reserve for women, by 2020, a minimum quota of 40% of non-executive positions on the boards of European publicly listed companies with 250 or more employees and an annual total turnover of more than EUR 50 million;
24. Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to improve the detection and elimination of the violations of women’s rights in the labour market and effectively punish these violations, so as to provide women living abroad for work purposes with all the necessary information, including with regard to access to jobs and training in this field and to social rights and healthcare, and to provide counselling in relation to employment opportunities and social housing programmes at no extra cost;
25. Calls on the Commission to monitor and report regularly on how EU funds focusing on education and training, occupational and educational mobility and on labour market participation are being taken up by women and men; calls on the Member States and the Commission to react rapidly in cases of unbalanced take-up;
26. Calls on the Member States to take action to eliminate the barriers to professional and social advancement which women face in the countries to which they have transferred their centre of interests but which are not their country of origin;
27. Notes that women, including migrant workers, are much more likely than men to be subject to involuntary part-time working (with 32.1 % of women working part-time in the European Union in 2011 compared to 9 % of men); calls on the Member States to take the necessary measures to discourage employers from recruiting employees on a part-time basis (by requiring justification, abolishing certain tax advantages, etc) and strengthen the rights of women who have no alternative but to work part-time (by means of priority recruitment, job insecurity payments in the event of dismissal, etc);
28. Urges the Member States and the Commission to strengthen the EU’s policy on fighting direct and indirect discrimination against EU migrant workers and women in particular, hosted by another Member State and the abuse of their rights as a result of their insufficient knowledge of languages and of the laws applicable to their employment in the host Member State;
29. Calls on the Commission and the Member States, with the support of local stakeholders, the social partners and training bodies, to make women more aware of the opportunities offered by occupational mobility, with particular reference to personal development, career planning and their rights when moving from one Member State to another for professional reasons;
30. Calls on the Member States to set up contact points for mobile domestic and care workers with individual employment relationships, so as to provide them with the means to establish a network enabling them to be informed of their rights, and to support non-governmental players active in this field;
31. Encourages the Member States to facilitate procedures for local and regional authorities:
-   to design and put into practice specific programmes to integrate women and men into local communities and to foster intercultural exchange,
-   to offer women who follow their spouses or partners to another Member State appropriate services such as courses to facilitate their integration into their new social and cultural environment, for example language courses and vocational courses, with special regard to vulnerable women,
-   to devote greater attention to integrating women into the labour market, particularly to their acquisition of qualifications and the updating thereof, the acquisition of skills and the implementation of the lifelong education and training programme,
-   to address highly mobile women at risk, such as domestic workers, care workers, cleaners and women working in the hotel, restaurant and catering (HORECA) sector,
-   to support social awareness campaigns by non-profit organisations focusing on women in international communities, such as expatriate spouses and partners,
-   to develop integration coaching programmes, psychological counselling and integration projects; stresses that concrete measures are of practical help in understanding and solving problems;
32. Stresses the damage to the economy and the individual stemming from the gender pay gap; stresses that the gender pay gap partially arises from the fact that sectors where women are over-represented often have lower salaries;
33. Urges the Member States to make pay trends more transparent, particularly by promoting collective bargaining, so as to avert continuing or widening pay gaps, including their implications for the accumulation of pensions in the Member State of origin and the host Member State and to take the necessary steps to bridge the wage gap; calls on the Commission to propose new measures to penalise and effectively reduce the pay gap between men and women and to monitor the correct application and effectiveness of Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation, as well as to revise the existing gender pay gap legislation (Directive 2006/54) as demanded by Parliament in its resolution of 13 March 2012; strongly urges the Commission and Member States to develop policies, in cooperation with social partners to eradicate the gender pay gap, that focus on the integration of women in the labour market and promote equal opportunities for mobility;
34. Stresses that the upbringing of children requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society as a whole and calls on the Member States to provide workers who move with a spouse or partner and/or children regardless of their level of pay or qualifications with information about the family benefits available in the host Member State, public care facilities for children and other dependants, pre-schools, schools and medical services, along with free access to public employment services in accordance with the applicable national legislation in order to help spouses or partners moving to another Member State to find a job; reasserts the need to guarantee the right to family reunification;
35. Calls on Member States to set up infrastructural measures to support mobile workers with families, addressing access to education and childcare, social security and community services; calls on both sending and receiving Member States to develop mechanisms for integration and reintegration of highly mobile workers with families; underlines that the value of intercultural skills acquired by women moving abroad should be better recognised by employers;
36. Encourages Member States to combat poverty and the social exclusion of women of all age groups; calls on the Commission and Member States to take measures to prevent the feminisation of poverty by promoting employment and the spirit of enterprise among women, combating wage disparities and facilitating the reconciliation of professional and family duties by developing child care facilities;
37. Calls on the Member States and the Commission to pay special attention to the problem of poverty among older women caused by the fact that they receive smaller pensions, also as a consequence of periods of unemployment which they undergo in order to take care of their children and other dependant family members;
38. Calls on the Member States to encourage employers to grant flexible working times for women, and especially those whose children have remained in the Member State of origin, so as to enable them to maintain a tangible physical link with their children;
39. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the use of teleworking in both private and public sector organisations, on the basis of fair pay and fair social conditions, to avoid the need for women to take career breaks in connection with their partners’ occupational mobility;
40. Calls on the Member States to actively participate in removing obstacles to workers’ mobility by offering family members and partners services such as courses to facilitate their long-term integration into their new social and cultural environment, for example language and vocational courses, in order to ensure their independence and dignity;
41. Stresses the need to attract women to education and training in the MINT professions (mathematics, informatics, new technologies), in order to overcome occupation segregation and wage discrimination; urges the Member States to promote vocations and professions requiring scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical skills among women from an early age, for better employability and to assist the transition between education, professional training and employment; thus, calls on the Member States to provide or further develop quality vocational orientation and career guidance services to assist women in this regard;
42. Stresses the positive impact of attracting women from an early stage into professions in key industries with a high job potential, in particular the green economy, the health and social care sector and the digital economy;
43. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take action to address gender segregation by sectors by both motivating individuals from early on to go into relevant sectors and by addressing the conditions that make such sectors less attractive for women or men, such as on the one hand working conditions incompatible with care responsibilities and on the other hand pay;
44. Reiterates its call on the Member States to promote learning and employment mobility by: (a) increasing awareness and making information easily accessible to all; (b) highlighting the added value of mobility in the early stages of education; (c) ensuring that learning outcomes from mobility experiences between Member States are validated; (d) reducing administrative burdens and stimulating cooperation between the relevant authorities across the Member States and (e) recognising periods spent abroad for the purpose of calculating cumulative pension entitlement in the Member State of origin;
45. Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to all aspects of educational and vocational training, higher education and adult education, with a view to improving the quality of education and enhancing employment prospects in the future;
46. Notes that since its inception in 1987 the Erasmus programme alone has enabled more than 2.2 million students to be mobile within the EU, and has made a significant contribution to mobility in European higher education; hopes, therefore, that the future multiannual financial framework will make adequate financial provision for all programmes designed to support mobility and education; calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue their active support for European and international education and study programmes, and programmes such as Grundtvig, Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci, Jean Monet and Erasmus so as to facilitate educational and occupational mobility for women in the EU and also to enable teachers to spend part of their working lives in another EU Member State, thereby helping to foster a sense of European citizenship and identity; stresses the importance of the new multiannual programme for education, vocational training, youth and sport, which builds on the positive experiences of all existing European programmes in the areas of mobility and education.
47. Stresses the importance of gender-sensitive educational systems, as they give children a diversity of choice in discovering their talents; stresses that research indicates that strong gender stereotyping in education adds to gender segregation in the labour market, both in relation to sectors and occupations; calls on the Commission and Member States to combat these stereotypes;
48. Stresses the need to introduce youth guarantees in the Member States in order to increase labour market access for young people, including female graduates, and to facilitate their transition from studying to the labour market; underlines that early career mobility patterns play a crucial role in shaping subsequent employment changes; recalls its two resolutions of 24 May 2012 on the Youth Opportunities Initiative and of 16 January 2013 on a Youth Guarantee; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to implement swiftly the youth employment package, particularly with regard to ‘Your first EURES job’ and the Youth Guarantee, with a view to fostering early educational and occupational mobility of young women;
49. Calls on the Commission, likewise, to find a means of integrating the education acquired through youth mobility with jobs matching that education, in order to increase the efficiency of the mobility process in both its educational phase and its occupational phase;
50. Stresses that, in order to boost employment and combat long-term unemployment, it is necessary to consider increasing mobility not only for students and workers, but also for their teachers; considers that such an approach would ensure quality teaching;
51. Emphasises the importance of an enhanced social dimension and of increasing access to educational mobility programmes for women from disadvantaged backgrounds, women with low incomes, women on maternity leave and single mothers;
52. Calls on the Member States to clarify the financial support options that exist for women’s educational and employment mobility, and to make it easier to access this information;
53. Emphasises that disabled women, women with few or no educational qualifications and single mothers must be given sufficient information and additional support to gain access to existing training, learning and educational mobility programmes;
54. Draws particular attention to women with disabilities and stresses the need for measures and actions to combat double discrimination and promote completely equal rights and opportunities;
55. Considers that special attention should be given to respect for the cultural background and/or traditions of women from minority communities;
56. Calls on Member States to encourage national, regional and local projects to improve the labour participation rate of women; calls on Member States to encourage higher participation of men and women in volunteering and charity activities for the community;
57. Emphasises that special attention must be awarded to supporting the mobility of women aged over 45, who are more willing than other women to accept insecure employment,
58. Stresses the need to increase the level of participation in lifelong learning programmes by women who have moved abroad, including programmes relating to skills development, and points out that programmes to strengthen social integration should also be introduced;
59. Points out that unemployment and problems getting into the workforce affect women from a wide range of age groups, and that women have to react quickly to the labour market’s requirements and welcomes the measures proposed by the Commission to tackle the current, unacceptable levels of youth unemployment and social exclusion and offer young people jobs, education, and training; supports the initiatives adopted by the Commission, such as the ‘WOmen Mobility ENhancement’ mechanism, and calls on the Commission to broaden and enhance the scope of projects designed to increase the professional mobility of women;
60. Stresses the conclusions of the Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations; points out the need to support voluntary activities and the exchange of knowledge and experiences between women from different age groups;
61. Calls on the Commission to support the reallocation of adequate financial resources to programmes that promote women’s employment and better education for disadvantaged groups;
62. Recommends the establishment of a European Counselling Service Network to help local communities deal with this problem by providing information, know-how and guidance regarding the integration of women; recommends the promotion and use of instruments and networks and continued funding for existing European networks, as well as instruments facilitating mobility such as EURES, Your Europe and Europe Direct, which also make it easier for women to find information about their rights and opportunities in the various Member States;
63. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments of the Member States.


OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.


Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0455.


Eurostat 2010, except EE, EL (2008). AT, BE, ES, IE, FR, IT, CY: provisional source.


European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2012 in the interests of achieving a positive outcome of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 approval procedure.