FOR INFO: ETUC Gender Equality Survey 2018

Brussels, 25 June 2018

  • To all ETUC Member Organisations
  • To the Members of the ETUC Women's Committee
  • To the Member of the ETUC Youth Committee

Dear colleagues,

please find attached the report of this year ETUC Gender Equality Survey.

The first part of the report looks at trends in female trade unions' membership and in unions' decision-making positions among ETUC confederations and ETUFs.

The second part of this year survey draws conclusions on trade unions' actions to tackle gender equality within youth policies.

We take the opportunity to thank the several members that contributed, this year again, to the positive outcome of this survey.

Best regards,

Montserrat Mir

Confederal Secretary

Key findings (Part I) - Women in membership and decision making positions

  • The level of responses to this,11th Annual Gender Equality Survey has unfortunately been lower than in the past. 39 confederations from 25 countries replied. This compares with 44 confederations from 29 countries in 2017, and 53 from 34 countries in 2016.

  • Despite this, the survey provides a good indication of developments, as the 39 confederations which have responded have some 37 million members, around 80% of the total members of the 89 confederations affiliated to the ETUC.

  • The average proportion of women members in the confederations replying to the 2018 survey is 46.1%.

  • Most confederations report an increase in the proportion of women in membership.

  • Looking at union leaders, 11 of the 39 confederations have a woman as the key leader. The 11 confederations where this is the case are:  ACV / CSC (Belgium), where leadership is shared, LIGA (Hungary), ICTU (Ireland), CGIL (Italy), CISL (Italy), LPSK/LTUC (Lithuania), UNIO (Norway), YS (Norway), ZSSS (Slovenia), TCO (Sweden) and the TUC (UK).

  • An analysis of the leadership team as a whole, including vice-presidents, deputy general secretaries, and treasurers as well as the top leaders, shows that there are 15 confederations where 50% or more of the team is female, although there are also seven where there are no women in the leadership.

  • The proportion of women on the key decision-making bodies between congresses is 33.5%, and in seven confederations women made up more than half of this body.

  • The vast majority of confederations (29 out of 39) have a women’s or gender equality committee or similar body, and a further five have a broader equality committee.

Key findings (Part II) - Young women in unions and in the labour market

  • Most confederations have figures on the number of young members in their confederations or can estimate of the number. Confederations typically define a “young member” as someone aged under 35, although a few have younger cut-off ages and one has a cut-off date of 40.

  • In almost all countries the proportion of the total membership who are young members is lower than the number of employees in that age group, although in some cases this comparison is not precise. Generally, however, unions appear justified in fearing that they are failing to recruit younger employees.

  • Most confederations have a youth committee or similar body and some of the other confederations have other ways in which young members are represented. Most youth committees have a majority of male members, but in almost half the head of the committee is a woman. Where there is a youth committee, it normally works with the women’s committee, and in most cases confederations take gender into account in their organising strategy.  

  • Figures from Eurostat make it clear that educational performance of young women and girls is better than that of young men and boys. These facts are clearly recognised by a majority of confederations, although they also recognise that women and girls are often poorly represented in scientific and technical subjects. Despite this strong educational performance young women are less likely to be employed than their male counterparts. In many countries, although not a majority, they are also more likely to be unemployed. Many confederations have recognised this and have pushed their governments to improve the employment prospects of young women.  

  • Looking at a range of specific labour market issues, where young women might be disadvantaged as compared to young men, most confederations considered that in three areas the existing systems worked equally well for both sexes. This was the case for apprenticeships, help out of unemployment and access to employment for young people. However, where there was a view that one sex was disadvantaged, in almost all cases it was felt that women fared worse.

  • In the area of precarious work, there was much less doubt that young women faced greater difficulties than young men, and some confederations were able to provide statistics showing that young women were more likely to be employed on precarious contracts.

  • Although dismissal during pregnancy is illegal in most circumstances, a majority of confederations said that it did occur, and again some were able to point to national reports, which set out the extent of the problem.

  • The existence of a smaller gender pay gap among young women, shown by Eurostat statistics was also confirmed by a majority of confederations, with some able to present national statistics on the gender pay gap by age.

  • Most confederations said they had taken action to tackle the problems facing young women in the labour market, either through collective bargaining (25 of 39 confederations replying), or in other ways, such as campaigns and lobbying.  Tackling the gender pay gap and improving leave and working time flexibility for young women are the issues most frequently addressed.