We're Stronger Together: Final policy paper of the GenderWorks project | Social Exclusion | Poverty

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This paper is the culmination of the policy work of the Oxfam GenderWorks project. It brings together the learning and experience gathered from training events, practice exchanges, and policy seminars in the three participating countries over the two years, as well as analysis of both EU and member state policy and practice, including their National Action Plans (NAPs), to tackle poverty.
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   G e n d e r W o r ks  We’re s tronger  toge ther: Final polic y paper o f  the Gender Works pro jec t O x fam GB, Februar y 2010  GenderWorks2 Acknowledgments Many thanks to the all the women and men Oxfam has worked with on the GenderWorks project for such inspiration and hard work. Our particular thanks go to Gina Webhofer of WAVE, and Marco Maranza of Lamoro, for their contributions and comments. GenderWorks is a two-year project (2007-09), funded by the European Commission under PROGRESS, to investigate women’s experiences of poverty and social exclusion in Europe, and policy processes to improve their lives. Oxfam is the lead agency, with partner organisations in Italy and Austria. We’re stronger together:Final policy paper of the GenderWorks project Sue Smith, February 2010  We’re stronger together: Final policy paper of the GenderWorks project3 Contents 1. Summary 42. Background to the project 53. Analysis and recommendations on key policy areas 54. Where next for women’s social inclusion? 155. Social inclusion and the National Action Plan (NAP) 16References 18  GenderWorks4 1. Summary All over the world, women are poorer than men. The same is true in the UK, and in every member state of the European Union (EU). In the UK, women working part time earn 40 per cent less than men. The pensions of retired woman are 40 per cent less than those of their male counterparts. Just under 17 per cent of women in the EU’s 27 countries are classed as living in poverty; and Britain has the seventh-highest number of women living in poverty after Estonia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Spain, and Latvia. 1  These statistics, in such a rich and developed region of the world, are shocking. Oxfam’s experience working overseas and, since 1996, in the UK, has shown us some of the most effective strategies in tackling women’s poverty. These include: enabling poor women to share their experience and opinions with policy makers and to help design solutions to some of the problems they face; working with policy makers and service providers to ensure they better understand the particular needs and experience of women; and supporting policy makers to design better policies and public services to tackle poverty and social exclusion.Building on our experience in the UK, Oxfam has been working with partner organisations in Europe to run GenderWorks, a two-year project launched in December 2007, funded by the European Commission, which aims to improve the lives of women living in poverty in the EU. We have been working in Austria with WAVE, a network of women’s shelters and aid organisations for migrant and refugee women; and in Italy with Lamoro, a local development agency which focuses on helping women find jobs, and improving conditions for women at work.Throughout the project, GenderWorks has been examining the experience of poor women, sharing learning, and using policy processes to make a difference. Training has been a key strategy in the project: training for women living in poverty to help them develop the skills and confidence to talk to decision-makers about the problems they face, and to find solutions to meet their needs; and training local policy-makers and service providers in the UK, Italy, and Austria to ensure they are aware of the different needs of women and men, and that their polices and services take these differences into account. This paper is the culmination of the policy work of the GenderWorks project. It brings together the learning and experience gathered from training events, practice exchanges, and policy seminars in the three participating countries over the two years, as well as analysis of both EU and member state policy and practice, including their National Action Plans (NAPs), to tackle poverty. Above all, the paper is based on the voices and experience of numerous poor women, and the organisations that work with them, who have shared their stories, struggles, energy, and creativity with us over the last two years. This evidence and analysis has been used to make recommendations in six key areas. These are aimed at the European Commission, EU member states, and policy makers and service providers – each of which has the power to take action to tackle poverty and social exclusion in their arena. Summary recommendations:  GenderWorks makes the following recommendations for tackling women’s poverty. 1. Getting women a voice. Policy makers at all levels should facilitate and support the voice of grassroots women in policy making. Member state policy analysis, priorities, conclusions, and recommendations must be driven by what poor women themselves are saying. 2. Getting and using the right data. We recommend that each member state introduce a chapter on women’s poverty into its NAP, and fund its national equality body to produce annual digests of statistics on gender and poverty. 3. Getting women into the right jobs. Active labour market policies can only be socially inclusive if they provide tailored and flexible support to poor women, listen to them, and take their lead from what women say they need. Policies must take a holistic view of women as potential employees, which takes into account caring and family responsibilities. 4. Improve the quality of services for marginalised women. Member states must ensure that all women within their borders experience humane treatment, have access to basic services, and have enough financial support to survive, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status. Vulnerable women, such as those from minority communities or with insecure immigration status, need additional support. 5. Putting violence against women into the picture. Violence against women must be recognised as a key driver of women’s poverty and social exclusion. And public services must better support women experiencing domestic violence: they must be properly resourced, workers must be trained to ask the questions which will reveal domestic violence, and appropriate support must be provided through mainstream services such as health, employment, housing, and education. The most vulnerable women, including migrant women and those with insecure immigration status, must receive additional support.
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