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Gender equality and long-term care at home

July 1, 2020

Gender equality and long-term care at home

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) recently published a report on formal homebased care across the EU and the position of women as a worker and user.

The EU is currently experiencing unprecedented demographic changes. The share of the popula­tion above 65 years old in the EU is expected to increase from 20 % in 2019 to 29 % by 2080 and the percentage of people above 80 years will more than double to 13 % in that time. A rap­idly ageing population leads to an ever-grow­ing need for long-term formal and informal care. In 2017, one in four people in the EU had a long-term disability, a greater number of that group being women (27 %) than men (22 %). Another population group in need of long-term care is families with children who have a disa­bility. In 2017, about 5 % of families with chil­dren had a child or children with disabilities.

Given this context, the EU will face major challenges in meeting long-term care needs in a financially sustainable way and in ensuring that care is affordable without endangering the quality of services or the lives of carers and those being cared for (European Commission, 2017d). Today, nearly a third of women and men in the EU live in households with unmet needs for professional care.

The EU Commission notes that the demand for staff is expected to increase specially in health care and long-term care. Most professionals in the formal care sector are women and their working conditions are often very demanding: heavy workloads, night shifts and low pay characterise their work. According to EIGE, in 2018, women represented 4.5 million out of the 5.5 million professional social workers providing care outside institutional settings in the EU.

These issues are putting in danger the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights that ensures everyone’s right to affordable and good quality long-term care services, especially home care.

The report analyses the different aspects of long-term care that determine women’s and men’s opportunities to access long-term care services as workers and users; and highlights why Europe needs to care more about care.

Concluding, EIGE outlines the need of better working conditions and remuneration in order to improve the image of the sector and to attract more men making the sector more gender-balanced.

The full report is accessible here.

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