More women and men are living on the edge of poverty and social exclusion today compared to 2010, according to a new study by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). Young people, lone parents, migrants, people with disabilities and families with three or more children are most at risk of poverty.
Today, almost 23 million children in the EU grow up in poverty. There is also clear evidence that a heavy dependence on a father’s income in many families increases the risk of poverty and insecurity. Especially when unexpected life events occur, such as job loss, family break-up, serious illness or even death. The study shows that if a father were to lose his job, 70 % of couples with children would fall into poverty.
“We need to ensure better career options for women, fair wages and better social systems, such as pension schemes that consider the different needs and challenges women and men face. These will help protect not only women against poverty, but also the whole family, including men and children”, said Virginija Langbakk, EIGE’s Director.
Employment is crucial in safeguarding people against poverty, however a job is not always enough. A third (36 %) of men and a quarter (25 %) of women who are poor are employed. Many working men live in poor households because their wives or partners are out of the labour market or earn very low income.
Women with children have a relatively low employment rate. Only half (55 %) of women with three or more children have a job. With the arrival of each additional child, the economic independence of women shrinks. The need to care for children, parents or sick and disabled relatives keeps many women out of paid work and this has life-long consequences for their career, financial situation and ultimately on pensions.
‘In an inclusive society, people’s well-being and life chances should not be pre-determined by their gender or other social factors. Nor should children create a poverty risk’ said Virginija Langbakk.
The report ‘Poverty, gender and intersecting inequalities in the EU’ was prepared at the request of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU (2016). This report is part of EIGE's regular work to monitor progress in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
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