Mumsnet goes to the European Parliament: your thoughts?

(128 Posts)
KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Mar-11 13:25:03

To mark the centenary of International Women's Day, Mumsnet has been invited to the EU Parliament for a rummage about. So we're off to Strasbourg, in a (possibly doomed) attempt to figure out what impact, if any, this labyrinthine institution has had on the equality of women here in the UK.

We'll be sitting in on a special IWD parliamentary session, where MEPs will be discussing what's been achieved to date to further women's equality across Europe, and debating what the next steps should be. The gender pay gap, the vexed issue of maternity leave, the lack of female decision-makers in business and politics, and the grim figures for female poverty across the EU are all on the agenda.

We'll be frantically trying to make sense of it all as the day unfolds; and with a bit of luck and a following wind we'll collar a couple of MEPs and policy bods along the way to answer your questions, and feed back your views.

So, whether you're entirely au fait with the EU's inner workings, or your heart sinks at the very thought of it, do post your questions, observations, gripes or suggestions here, and we'll try our best to get to the bottom of it all.

RamblingRosa Thu 03-Mar-11 13:56:57

I would be interested to hear more about the Pregnant Workers Directive which called for more paid maternity leave. I think it's kind of stalled and it would be good to hear more about why and when it's likely to go through (if ever!).

AbsDuCroissant Thu 03-Mar-11 15:55:20

I would like to know why/how the EU can justify spending (wasting) money at the rate it does, especially considering the economic strains various countries are facing. (I don't really expect my question to be answered to be honest)

posadas Thu 03-Mar-11 16:31:17

Who is the "we" who are going? Are you going in a personal capacity or are you representing a constituency?

mousymouse Thu 03-Mar-11 17:29:59

I would like to ask how the concept of europe can be better promoted in the uk.
it is a great idea: freedom of movement and trade and the possibility to just work in another european country without the worry of visa.
think all the pensioner in spain, only possible (transfer of pensions) because of the EU.

Tortington Thu 03-Mar-11 17:58:14

can you ask them if i can hvae a job?

oiwhatsoccuring Thu 03-Mar-11 18:49:44

I hope you won't be taking Mnrs over there to serve the MEPs tea, like you tried to do in London...

DamnYouAutocorrect Thu 03-Mar-11 19:14:12

I'd be interested to see which EU countries come out well on sex equality stuff. Everyone always thinks 'Sweden' (is Sweden actually in the EU?) but I've seen a few things recently suggesting that sex equality progress there has stalled.

Abr1de Thu 03-Mar-11 19:44:22

Ask them why we need a European parliament at all.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Mar-11 19:51:38

Hello all

RamblingRosa - yes, the Pregnant Worker's Directive's a bit of a biggie isn't it? The EU parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of extending paid maternity leave (although the amendment to extend it to 20 weeks rather than 16 weeks (I think) scraped through by a meagre seven votes. Interestingly, LOTS of British MEPs voted against the proposals, and it's top of my giant To Do list to try and grab one and find out why. It's now before the Council of the European Union (aka Council of Ministers) which comprises ministers from the various member states, and they seem to be stalling on it. I'll try and find out which way the wind is blowing.

AbsDuCroissant - is there a particular area of EU spending that you're concerned about?

Hello Posadas, we're going as MNHQ, and we're there to have a poke around the EU Parliament and report back on the IWD events, rather than to represent anyone. We did think though that we might get a chance to pick the brains, and maybe bend the ear, of an MEP or two if there were particular issues that MNers were interested in - though we'd make clear that Mumsnet is a many-tentacled octopus, so to speak, and not a block vote.

I suspect the learning curve involved in this trip will be practically vertical rather steep, so I'm hoping that those of you who know your Euro onions will be tempted onto the thread and I will pick it all up by osmosis. If anyone else has never quite got around to filling the EU-shaped gap in their brain, now's yer chance to speak up. If no clever person comes along to answer on the thread, I'll try to find Someone Who Knows.

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 03-Mar-11 19:57:26

No, no tea-serving oiwhatsoccurring grin
Apols also for not acknowledging everyone - am on motorway with 3% battery left! I'll also be offline for some of tomorrow but I'll catch up with you as soon as I can.

catinthehat2 Thu 03-Mar-11 20:58:01

The EU accounts have been rejected by auditors 16 years in a row.

Is this because of waste, incompetence or corruption?

Wills Thu 03-Mar-11 21:28:08

I haven't read through any comments but .... I'd like to know what Europe (and GB for that matter) are doing about enabling women/people/carers of children to return to work? Having come from a position of senior management within an investment bank to a (very happy) full time ('stay at home') mother of four I'm seriously frustrated by my lack of options of returning to work. My youngest is only 14 months but in a blink she'll be starting reception and off into full time school. I'd like to then return to work. I still have a fully working active intelligent mind but the options open to me are unacceptable. My children go to school from 9 till 3.30 33 weeks a year. Realisitically my options are to either return full time to work, thereby handing my children in their off time over to someone else or accepting a position as a part time till operator at a super market (I realise this is a little bit black and white but it closer to the truth than many would like to believe).

I have a bright, intelligent mind and I'm very eager to work during the hours that my children are at school. My hours of work are therefore very predictable years ahead. I want to see governments changing the current system to enable business to employ MORE people/women/child carers during school hours. Yes I understand that some people work 8 or 9 or 10 hours a day, but having come from an investment working environment I had no problem working with colleagues in New York, Japan, Singapore and even Australia. The stupid 'Job Share' option doesn't work in many many ways and I feel instead that the number of hours needed to perform positions should be re-examined and business should be encouraged through incentives and a reduction in the cost of employing a single person to re-examine a seriously untapped resource of women that gave up work to look after their children until they went to school.

Sorry I have HUNDREDS of opinions about this and hope I haven't gone on too much. Good luck

RedbinD Thu 03-Mar-11 23:50:26

I would like to ask: how after neil kinnock and his wife were so soundly rejected by the British voters, why do they now make a fortune out of the EU?

KateMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Mar-11 00:47:48

Now on iPhone so apols for typos. But here's a bit more info on what's going on at the IWD parliamentary session on Tuesday. MEPs (in theory, all of them) are debating and voting on two resolutions put forward by the Women's Rights Committee. One on gender equality, the other on female poverty.

Overall seems the committee argues that ALL EU policies should have women's equality as their starting point, and that if women's employment, part-time employment and productivity rates were similar to men's, GDP wld increase by 30%.

Their position is that this will only be achieved by narrowing the gender pay gap, getting more women into decision-making positions and raising female employment rates. Plus they want child-related leave and better childcare facilities to be centre stage ...

Prolesworth Fri 04-Mar-11 00:56:52

Message withdrawn

With a look at the new insurance deals...is this price we are paying for being treated equally? This is what we always face..equality means we are worse off. Why do we always pay the price for equality?

AbsDuCroissant Fri 04-Mar-11 08:38:46

Ask cat's question instead. I have heard, from knowledgable people, that the standard bribe in the EU is in the tens of millions of euros area. Which leads to the question - how do I get a job?

StillSquiffy Fri 04-Mar-11 10:16:56

I have spent past year working with exec board of very major organisation on the kind of issue Wills raised (and come from identical background). Brilliant women have no problems in getting offered the most amazing roles as MD/exec level, but cannot find any jobs that are willing to employ their brains at a senior level on a 30 hours basis - 70-80 hours is the minimum demanded at this level. Therefore to continue at work you end up getting sidelined in jobs well below your capacity (not to mention earning potential).

The organisational structure at the senior level is creating the barriers now. My firm is trying to pull through women but many (including me) are turning away because we will not sacrifice our children. Men have no problems doing this because they have non-working wives at home. The stats for one company I know well for example has 90% of the top women having children for whom they are the primary carer, whereas 90% of the men at that level are not the primary (or even joint) carer, because they have home support. Whilst theoretically the couples themselves should determine their home-work arrangements between them, in practice successfull businesswomen are married to successful businessmen and it is heartbreaking to sit down and work out which one of you has to give up their ambitions, and sit and watch less capable people climb the ladder past you.

The EU has gender equality laws and working time directive laws. It now needs to look at these not in isolation but together across all organisations. In reality you can be a part-time chairman or director or partner by changing the model to operate job shares or by redrafting the job roles & responsibilities to crerate more board roles (each being less time-demanding), but because there is no pressure for the op model in top organisations to support such changes, it won't happen.

I have done plenty of research in past on glass ceiling, both within organisations and within academic environment, and I would kill to join you guys over at the EU.

LeninGrad Fri 04-Mar-11 10:34:21

Good points being raised, will be interested to see the outcome.

loftyclodflop Fri 04-Mar-11 12:09:18

Is MNHQ paying their own way to Strasbourg?

legoverlil Fri 04-Mar-11 12:20:12

MN taking the devils shilling

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Mar-11 12:35:54

loftyclodflop

Is MNHQ paying their own way to Strasbourg?

Hiya,
The EU invited us along with lots of other organisations to cover International Women's Day and are covering the costs.

LeninGrad Fri 04-Mar-11 12:48:37

Don't see a problem with having our voices heard tbh.

Kate, there is a thread here that would useful to get some feedback on from those in power if possible:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/womens_rights/1163270-Lack-of-convictions-for-RAPE-I-really-want-to-do-something-about-this-if-possible

AbsDuCroissant Fri 04-Mar-11 12:48:59

"The EU invited us along with lots of other organisations to cover International Women's Day and are covering the costs"

You see - this kind of spending. The biscuit budget for the MN contingent alone could probably bail out Greece.

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