|The EU Conference on
Equality in Helsinki, September 30-October 1, 1999
Press briefing at
Finlandia Hall 29 September 1999 at 18.00 o´clock
The EU Ministers for equality and labour will in the ministerial Conference arranged in
the Finlandia Hall on September 30-October 1, 1999, discuss how the Member States of the
EU have succeeded in mainstreaming the gender equality in the national action plans on
employment policy given to the European Commission. According to a recent report by the
Commission, the mainstreaming has not succeeded adequately. An assessment of the situation
has also put forward the impacts of fiscal and social policy incentives and impediments on
employment among women in particular.
Promoting gender equality is one of the priorities during the Finnish Presidency.
Finland continues the work of the previous Presidencies for mainstreaming the gender
equality perspective in the employment policies of the Member States, and wants to give an
impetus to taking account of it in other policies as well.
There will be discussion i.a. on the employment of women and men and on the fiscal and
social- policy incentives and impediments influencing it, on the promotion of equality in
working life, and on the unification of family and working life. Social-policy questions,
such as social security and welfare services promoting employment, are closely related to
employment policy. The putting forward of these questions in connection with employment
and economic policy has been given widespread support at the European Union level.
The Conference theme is part of the discussion this autumn on the joint employment
report of 1999 as well as on the employment guidelines for the year 2000, which will be
decided on during the Finnish Presidency. The Conference theme is topical all over Europe.
Increasing the employment rate is a joint European goal. At the EU level, the reaching of
the goal means especially the increasing of the employment rate of women, since their
employment rate is 20 percentage units lower on average than that of men.
Poorly developed day care services are the worse impediments to womens work
attendance. The taxation and social security systems also may include disincentives which
affect the job profitability of women and men in different ways. This question will also
be discussed in the Conference.
Those invited to the Conference to be held at the Finlandia Hall include, apart from
the ministers responsible for equality and labour affairs and Equality Commissioner Anna
Diamantopoulous, representatives of the Committee on Womens Rights and Equal
Opportunities and of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European
Parliament, as well as the chairman of the EUs Employment and Labour Market
Committee, for whom we have reserved an opportunity to present their views. Other issues
on the agenda include the role and responsibilities of labour market organizations in
promoting gender equality.
The Conference will be chaired by Ms Eva Biaudet, the Minister responsible for equality
affairs, and Ms. Sinikka Mönkäre, Minister of Labour. Altogether 11 ministers and 150
delegates will attend the Conference.