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Newsletters > March 2011 > International Conference on Reconciliation of Work and Private Life
12/02/11
Tips to top reconciliation: work it out and home it in…por una conciliacion compartida also known as the third PEOPLE International Conference organised by the Ministry for Equality and Social Welfare of the Regional Government of Andalusia (Junta de Andalucia). The Conference, which gathered together 75 female and 39 male participants, intended to raise awareness about the need to implement measures for the reconciliation of personal, family and professional life of women and men as a means of harmonizing the labour availability of both genders, taking into consideration the fact that women make up half the work-force and can contribute in an essential way to growth, employment and social cohesion in the European Union.

This political commitment in Andalusia and Spain has been confirmed at the highest level of policy makers at the Ministry for Equality and Social Welfare.

Indeed, the opening session involved Mrs. Micaela Navarro Garzón, the Minister for Equality and Social Welfare, Mrs. Ana Gómez Pérez, head of the General Directorate for Social Services and Attention to Drugs Addiction and Mrs. Soledad Pérez Rodríguez, the head of the Women Institute of Andalusia. The keynote speech on “Social demographic challenges in Europe” was assumed by Mrs. Elena Valenciano, former Member of European Parliament (1999-2008) and current representative at the Spanish Parliament. Both speeches outlined the crucial needs of reconciliation policies and innovative approaches to face the challenge of social welfare in Europe. Mrs. Valenciano outlined that “when envisaging the present and future European Union, a choice would have to be made between an articulated, united and social Europe or an irrelevant and decadent Europe.”

Specific materials in the field of reconciliation of work and private life were produced for this event, as for instance, a report on different use of time for women and men of European regions involved in the PEOPLE project; a methodological report on how to incorporate gender approach in each PEOPLE sub-objective; which was implemented during the three thematic workshops of the Conference on (in)dependence; social inclusion; social participation from a gender approach. This specialized set of documents and bibliography in reconciliation of private and work life in Europe was displayed on touch-screen and is available at the PEOPLE Wiki (http://people-eu-worklife.wikispaces.com/) This digital documentation and video streaming outlined the innovative character in the use of new technologies at the Conference. Participants could also react to the speeches and debates via a specific twitter communication channel. A selection of the best tweets was displayed by the end of the morning session.

A representative of each sub-project was interviewed and explained how the PEOPLE sub-projects were tackling this reconciliation in a cross-cutting analysis about their corresponding topic.

During the afternoon sessions, emphasis was laid on the exchange of practical experiences through speech on Gender & Reconciliation: “Tips to top reconciliation”. One Andalusian experience was shared via Skypeconference: Flora Tristán, a student residence working on social inclusion in deprived areas. Moreover, a video of the IT company Sandetel was also shown as an example of teleworking and an additional Skypeconference was set up with two Dutch experts to share their experiences in gender mainstreaming in the Netherlands.

The last session was meant to open debates and draw conclusions through the participation of experts in parallel workshops dealing with (In)dependence, Social Inclusion and Social Participation. The closing speech was held by the head of the General Directorate for Social Services and Attention to Drugs Addiction who stressed the responsibility of decision makers to consider and apply innovation policies and instruments adapted to the challenges investigated by PEOPLE.

The following synthesis of the main conference outputs was presented in plenary session:

·        Lack of or difficulties for reconciliation is an issue affecting every European country (see relevant statistics and indicators).

·        Gender mainstreaming applied in countries such as the Netherlands and UK does not apparently change that reality.

·        Reconciliation lacks of a genuine gender perspective, as it only seems to touch upon the compatibility of women's work and private life.

·        Reconciliation policies should include the principles of equality between women and men providing measure to stimulate and emphasize the Co-responsibility of women and men in all areas of both work and private life.

The ongoing access of women into the labour market, the increasing number of people under situation of dependency and the growing need for retaining talent, call upon the implementation of effective and efficient measures with an immediate impact. An equal distribution in the share of responsibilities between women and men has not been achieved so far, due to the lack of significant changes in the social structures, business, labour relations, the family and time management to facilitate reconciliation.

We have to keep on working in the detection of good practices in the field of reconciliation, since it has been demonstrated their positive impact on improving the quality of private and family life. Furthermore, the assumption of these good practices in companies may enhance their productivity through a greater commitment of their workers.