Setting the Benchmark for Gender Equality Across the Board.
A Force to be reckoned with in Industry!
Manuela Vollmann is the founder and Executive Director of abz*austria, an independent, non-party and non-profit organisation aiming to achieve gender equality within the labour market. Besides the work for and with women abz*austria also addresses gender equality issues for men, private companies and key actors in politics and in the field of science. The company’s hard work is financed through many high profile projects. For instance within its portfolio of clients are: the Austrian Employment Service, regional governments, national ministries, the European Union, and, private companies.
Since abz*austria was founded in 1992, Manuela has been active for equality requirements in business and political life, representing women at all levels of education and across all social levels, regardless of origin and age.
abz*austria is Austria’s largest organisation operating in this field with this mission. It currently supports 70 employee and also 30 self-employed consultants, and trainers. They are involved in five competence fields, developing solutions for the following areas: Gender Mainstreaming and Diversity Management; Reconciliation: Work: Family: Private Life; Work: Youth: Age; Lifelong Learning; and Work: Migration: Mobility.
Throughout this time, women’s education and job qualification as well as their secured subsistence and career achievement, have remained Manuela’s priority. Her aim is to support women in finding employment that will earn them a living, whilst at the same time provide them with satisfaction. Manuela says, ”I want my organisation to help women become, and stay, economically independent.” Her work experience in academia is also drawn upon, when aiming to facilitate these goals for women.
Manuela’s collective areas of expertise such as gender, labour market, social and economic policy all intersect in the running of her company. Her area of responsibility includes all the functions and tasks relating to the image and strategic development of the organisation, as it pursues correcting the balance for gender inequity. In nearly 20 years of commitment to abz*austria, her reputation as an expert for issues regarding the equality of both women and men in the labour market, have reached far beyond Vienna. She is regularly invited to expert forums on economics and politics as a speaker and participant in discussions, both nationally and internationally.
One area where abz*austria provides much needed support for women, is in integrating Migrant Women into the Labour Market.
Challenges for migrants in access to the labour market in Austria
- Migrants (esp. women and esp. from Turkey or African countries) face more unemployment, de-qualified and part time work, segmentation -> risk of poverty
- Second and third generation have the highest rate of unemployment (13,8%)
- women (OE) 68%
- women (migrants) 57%
- Women earn only 2/3 of what men earn
- Women with migration status, earn even less - only 2/3 of that
- Migrant women are over-proportionately represented in the highest and the lowest educational ranks
Migrants (especially women) face more unemployment, non-recognition of their formal qualifications, and tend to opt for part time work -> risk of poverty
- Prejudices and discrimination/ very traditional labour market and companies
- Legal status - insecurity, lack of perspectives, and
- Differences in appreciation, recognition of skills, work experience and qualifications
- Costs for vocational trainings and qualifications
- Lack of access to informal networks with locals
- Diversity in between groups of migrants -> tailor-made measures
abz*austria provides tailored support for its ‘target’ groups, in concert with Viennese government integration policies.
- Qualified women of countries outside the European Union, who have immigrated to Vienna since 2008
- Estimated participants: ~ 260 from January 2010 - December 2011
- Vienna offers all new immigrants the Start Wien program, to assist in their integration process (information, counselling)
- Case Management for qualified women is a standard follow-up procedure, and is funded by Municipal Department (a supplementary offer to the specific target group)