According to the most recent statistics (May 2010), only 48.9% of women aged between 15 and 64 are employed, while the unemployment rate for women is 15.9% as compared to 8.5% for men (March 2010). Women are paid 78% of men’s salaries, due mostly to occupational segregation. The majority of poor people are women, mainly single parents. Only 17.3% of Greek Parliamentarians are women. Domestic violence is overwhelmingly exercised by men against women. There have been forty victims of domestic violence murdered over the last three years.
The aforementioned indicated statistics demonstrate the immediate need to develop specialised gender equality policies. This National Programme includes interventions that aim at:
A. combating gender inequality in specific public policy fields, and
B. the creation or enhancement of policy making institutions, structures and bodies.
Interventions are supported by specific PROJECTS, designed and supervised by volunteer Scientific Committees, with the participation of university members, experts and representatives of competent agencies.
Projects are funded by the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) (“Administrative Reform” OP, “Human Resource Development” OP, “Digital Convergence” OP) and are currently at different phases of implementation. Work Programmes have already been prepared for most of them.
A. Public policy fields
A1. Violence against women
Violence against women in all its forms, such as maltreatment by husbands/partners (sexual, physical, psychological, economic, verbal), illegal trafficking in women for sexual/financial exploitation, rape and sexual harassment in the workplace comprise conspicuous violations of women’s fundamental rights. Gender violence continues in every country and civilisation, leading to deaths of women as well as serious physical and psychological losses in the lives of women, their families and society in general. Although most societies forbid violence, in reality violence is often covered up or tolerated.
Prevention and combating of violence against women in our country is the subject of the National Programme for prevention and combating of violence against women 2009-2013, as announced in November 2009. This Programme includes actions, such as the creation of Counselling Centres and Shelters in the capital city of each Region, the operation of a National Emergency SOS Telephone Line, the running of awareness-raising campaigns to prevent violence, etc (PROJECT 3, PROJECT 4, PROJECT 5, PROJECT 6).
The development of GSGE cooperation relations and networks with civil society (NGOs, women’s organisations, regional initiatives, local and regional government, mass media, professional unions and associations, etc) enhances the effectiveness of actions for combating violence, facilitating abused women to “break the silence” and access GSGE Counselling Centres for assistance.
A2. Multiple Discrimination
Women’s fundamental rights are seriously threatened when gender discrimination is aggravated by other kinds of discrimination such as that based on nationality, physical ability, social isolation, etc.
During the last twenty years, immigrant women have actively contributed to the economic and social life of our country. They work primarily as dependent care workers, and they have taken over a significant part of domestic duties, facilitating Greek women’s employment. Most women immigrants, especially those employed in cleaning and catering companies, face problematic working conditions, little social insurance coverage and low salaries. GSGE offers immigrant women consultation and information services in order to confront violence and improve their professional skills. Their access to Counselling Centres shall be facilitated by information material translated into languages from their countries of origin.
Single-parent families face greater pressure within family, working and social environments. Women are the overwhelming majority of single parents in Europe, and in Greece (91%). GSGE actions related to single-parent families are focused on the effort to improve the institutional framework and broaden facilities within working environments, health services and social policy. Through its Counselling Centres, GSGE offers consistent and reliable information and publishes related information brochures.
Improvement of the quality of life of handicapped women, who are more likely to become victims of violence, as well as for mothers of handicapped children, has been set as a Programme goal. GSGE cooperates with the newly-established Committee on Gender Equality Issues of the Handicapped Persons National Confederation, aiming to execute an Incorporation Plan to ensure for access to all GSGE services.
In cooperation with international NGOs and other organizations such the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Greek Council for Refuges, GSGE develops actions for women and girls immigrants and asylum seekers, who are more vulnerable and are in jeopardy of experiencing domestic violence, trafficking, etc.
GSGE cooperates with “EPANODOS” (a private entity) run by the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights to create training programmes for women detainees and former detainees. These provide an opportunity for them to generate income and improve the conditions for their integration into their family, society and the labour market after their release.
The establishment of GSGE Counselling Centres in all Regions shall provide the opportunity to support other groups of women that face multiple discrimination as well, such as drug addicted women, homeless women, Roma women, etc.
A3. Reproductive and sexual health
In collaboration with the General Secretariat for Youth and the General Secretariat for Public Administration, a campaign is about to launched to inform youth (men and women) about sexual health. It will focus especially on contraception, aiming to diminish the recourse to abortions, as their percentage remains at high levels in our country.
In cooperation with the competent services of the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity, GSGE Counselling Centres shall offer information on women’s health issues, conception and contraception, artificial insemination, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. At the same time, GSGE shall establish collaborative relations with NGOs working to combat some types of cancer (cervical and breast cancer) affecting women by informing them about the necessity of preventive medical examinations.
A key goal of the development of European and national policy is the full and equal integration of women into the labour market. Increased and long-term unemployment of women in Greece requires a combination of multiple-pronged and holistic approaches, due to its multiple economic, social and psychological impacts.
Employment councellors of GSGE Counselling Centres shall support employed women, self-employed women and owners of small enterprises with the aim of upgrading their knowledge and skills in order to improve their labour market status (PROJECT 8). Women who conclude the specialised gender consultation process in GSGE Counselling Centres shall be entitled, within the framework of an integrated action for the support of unemployed women, to continue their training with guaranteed employment (PROJECT 9). GSGE work in the field of women’s employment and the promotion of gender equality in the labour market also includes its assistance to the Action Plan for gender mainstreaming of the Hellenic Manpower Employment Organisation.
As far as harmonising professional and family life, women continue to shoulder the responsibility of dependants (children, elderly, patients, disabled persons, etc) and domestic duties. As a result, they participate in the labour market under inferior terms than men, and for shorter periods of time. The equalisation of retirement ages recently imposed for both women and men presumes the taking of accompanying measures to support parents of minor children and the changing of traditional attitudes and roles in relation to care and domestic duties. This includes presupposing that men take on a double role in the labour market and their families, so as to decrease the unpaid work burdens that are mostly carried out by women. Measures such as the enhancement of all-day schools, increase of nominal insurance term due to pregnancy and extension of paid parental leaves shall be accompanied by an organised public awareness-raising campaign run by GSGE aiming at the equal distribution of paid and non-paid work in the family/private life and the labour market (PROJECT 9).
According to the current Memorandum of Understanding entered into between GSGE and the Greek Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, GSGE shall encourage enterprises to develop not only favourable activities for women, in order for women to become active participants in decision-making, but also policies that may help the balancing of professional and family duties of employed men and women. Under the Memorandum, an Equality Prize has been established for enterprises, as well as rewards for network members that implement gender equality policies.
Women’s financial independence has been promoted by the provision of the recent Taxation Law (Law 3842/2010) according to which, from 2011 on, spouses shall make separate tax statements and shall be separately refunded according to their personal incomes. As a result, taxation shall be carried out for each spouse independently.
A5. Fostering Women’s Participation in Decision-making and Civil Society
The increase of women’s participation in politics is a prerequisite for democracy, credibility of the political system, and utilisation of the entire spectrum of social experience. The group of measures programmed by GSGE in this connection include actions to underscore the necessity of women’s representation, binding measures for their inclusion in voting papers (quotas), support actions for candidates and elected women politicians (experiential seminars, etc) as well campaigns for to support election of women (PROJECT 10).
In 2010, emphasis shall be placed on visibility of women in the Regional and Municipal elections, and on gender mainstreaming in local governance within the context of the new framework of “Kallikratis” Programme. The organization of a conference entitled “City of Equality” at the beginning of 2011 - in cooperation with the Equality Committee of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) - shall be the landmark in this connection. Respectively, in 2013, emphasis shall be given to national and European elections, preceded by a related European Conference on “Women in Leadership” (20 years after Athens Declaration).
At the same time, support shall be provided for the establishment of women or gender equality offices or committees as well as for the fostering of women networking within secondary and tertiary organisations of social partners (General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), Supreme Administration of Greek Civil Servants (ADEDY), Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), General Confederation of Greek Agrarian Associations (GESASE), Greek Small Businesses and Trades Association (GSEVE), National Confederation of Greek Trade (ESSE). These will aim to enhance women’s status in the negotiation mechanisms of social dialogue, so as to highlight and promote their demands (PROJECT 11).
In modern European societies, the level of civil society development is a barometer for democracy. This Programme includes the reinforcement of actions by women’s, feminist and non-governmental organisations promoting gender equality. The goal is to utilise the range of knowledge and experience gained by women’s and mass movements, to boost their administrative organization by enhancing their human capital, and to upgrade their negotiating capacity and power (PROJECT 12). At the same time, there is a dedicated space available on the GSGE website for women’s organisations to make their proposals, therefore giving them broad exposure and facilitating consultation with them..
GSGE shall monitor the implementation of the law stipulating the minimum participation of at least 1/3 of each sex in the Administrative Boards of Organisations that are supervised by the Greek State, as well as in the Service Councils of the Greek State (Law 2839/2000, article 6).
A6. Mass Media
The role of mass media (press, radio, TV and internet) in the reproduction of gender stereotypes is pivotal, as the information that they communicate formulates social conscience, educates, informs and sensitises citizens, including men and women of all ages. Images depict women in a way that systematically degrades them or reinforces traditional patterns, influencing the public and reproducing gender patterns, sexist behaviours and beliefs.
In order to limit the reproduction of sexist patterns (violence, traditional roles of men and women, etc), GSGE has been systematically cooperating with the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT). It shall contribute to: a) the support of gender equality policies by acting as a communication consultant and b) the promotion of public dialogue and the establishment of programmes on gender equality issues. At the same time, within the framework of corporate responsibility, ERT - in cooperation with GSGE - shall develop actions, including the co-production of documentaries and the development of programmes that aim at the limitation of gender stereotypes and images of violence against women.
GSGE cooperates with monitoring bodies of programmes and advertisement spots (Greek National Council for Radio and Television and Communication Monitoring Council), in order to enhance the respective ethics codes with criteria that limit sexist behaviours and provide initiatives for the production of programmes and advertisements which promote equality. Upon the adoption of the European Directive 2007/65/EC concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities, GSGE shall take over the responsibility to inform and sensitise the competent bodies re: new legislation regulations in the field of women’s dignity protection.
The awarding of prizes shall continue: a) “Eleni Alitzoglou” gender equality prize by the ‘Botsis’ Institute for the Promotion of Journalism and b) to a movie that promotes gender equality in cooperation with Thessaloniki International Film Festival. A new prize shall be established in cooperation with the Hellenic Advertisers Association, which shall be awarded to the television spot that promotes alternative gender life and labour patterns (i.e. participation of genders in all activities of private/family, social and professional life) (PROJECT 13).
A7. Arts and Culture
Stereotypes about men and women are also reproduced in the field of art and culture, as cultural creativity in general may become a transmission mechanism for social beliefs, attitudes and gender patterns of their creators. GSGE sets as a priority the enhancement of cultural creation on the thematic axis: “Gender equality – Women’s fundamental rights”. More specifically, men and women artists shall be supported to create paintings, sculptures, videos, installations, performances, photos, netart, documentaries, dance, theatre and literature. Such actions shall be enacted in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Hellenic Museum of Contemporary Art, the Greek Film Archive, the National Book Centre, the Hellenic School of Orchestral Art, the National Theatre of Northern Greece, as well as with other related bodies (PROJECT 14).
Cooperation with educational departments of embassies shall also be developed to support interculturalism in cultural creation on gender equality issues by organising exhibitions, events and other joint activities. A two-week art event is planned for March 2012.
B. Policy making institutions, bodies and structures
The cross-cutting and multilateral character of gender equality policies creates the necessity to improve and empower policy making institutions, bodies and structures aiming to expand public and civil society agencies’ involvement, and to more effectively coordinate efforts made by the agencies working in the field of gender equality.
B1. Counselling Centres of the General Secretariat for Gender Equality (GSGE)
Part of the mandate of the GSGE, as the sole specialised public service with the goal to promote substantive gender equality, includes the operation of Counselling Centres for women all over the country (in 13 capitals of the Regions). The creation of such Centres helps meet the policy, and overarching goal, of the government to serve men and women citizens.
Grounded in the experiences of its core two (2) Counselling Centres for the acceptance of mistreated women (in Athens and Piraeus), and its five (5) Counselling Centres for Employment and Entrepreneurship which operated in the Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI), GSGE has designed Consultation Centres which shall serve women victims of violence, unemployed and employed women. The philosophy for women’s consultation includes methods of holistic approach to women’s problems, given that they are closely interrelated and they cannot be dealt with in a segmental manner. Counselling Centres shall provide specialised consultation. More specifically, they shall provide legal consultation, legal assistance in cooperation with bar associations, psychological-social support, employment and entrepreneurship consultation as well as information on health issues and on topics that are related to gender studies and documentation of gender inequalities.
B2. Library on Gender and Equality (LGE)
The promotion of gender equality requires policies based on scientific knowledge, documentation, research and information. The GSGE Library on Gender and Equality has been operating since 1981 as a collection area for specialised books and publications on gender and women’s movement issues. It also organises related events.
New documentation technologies require the digitising and filing of documents (written and oral) and research projects, in order for them to be accessible to experts and the public alike. GSGE fosters the upgrading of the Library services by intervening in two separate documentation sectors: a) development and pilot operation of a digital thematic depository and b) expansion and digitising of the Library’s historical archive. These activities will be preceded by mappings of the Library’s holdings in its two main areas (PROJECT15).
B3. Public Policy Monitoring Structure
The multidimensional character of gender relations is reflected in all activities of human life, public and private alike. The factors that create and reproduce inequalities in selected areas of public life may be identified by a series of specialised studies and researches. The gender gap in employment, social, political and cultural fields may be measured using the tools of social sciences and may be assessed on a gender basis. The UN and the EU have established a system of gender indicators in all fields, which indicate the existing conditions in each member-state and by which quantified targets are set for national gender equality programmes. Based on a specialised gender indicator system, it is possible to monitor the progress in every field of policy and to identify measures that facilitate acceleration of substantive equality.
GSGE shall develop a specialised structure for the monitoring of gender mainstreaming and shall make a gender impact assessment in relation to public policies (PROJECT 16). This structure shall support, coordinate and cooperate with gender experts throughout public administration and with independent authorities such as the new Statistical Service of Greece, the Ombudsman, and the Consumer’s Counsellor. In parallel, it shall cooperate with Regional Committees on Gender Equality (PEPIS) and shall support the Interministerial Committee on Gender Equality, the National Committee on Equality between Women and Men and the National Observatory for Prevention of and Combating Violence against Women.
B4. Internet portal
Constant, direct and valid information and communication on issues of gender equality is both a priority and a factor that empowers women’s social status (PROJECT 17).
Through the operation of its interactive portal, GSGE shall:
a. develop interactive services providing information on salient topics to women and citizens in general,
b. provide support and consultation to women’s groups via the use of the internet, in cooperation with the 24hr/day SOS emergency telephone line for victims of violence,
c. produce training tools for major digital skills and e-services,
d. Utilise national expertise on gender equality via the open interaction process of creating a Registry for gender experts.
B5. Participation in international and European organisations
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality actively participates in the following Committees and Working Groups of the European Union and International Organisations:
a) Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunities between Women and Men
b) High Level Group for gender mainstreaming in all Policies and Actions
c) High Level Group for gender mainstreaming in the Structural Funds
d) Working Group for strengthening Women’s Entrepreneurship - WES
e) Working Group for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Gender Equality Issues
f) Regional Meetings of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Group on Gender Equality
g) Ad hoc Meeting between EU Equality Ministers
h) Experts Forum by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
a) Directory Committee for Gender Equality (GSGE representative has been elected as the Chairwoman of the said committee)
b) Committee for the implementation of the European Convention on elimination of any kind of violence against women, including domestic violence.
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT (OECD)
Gender equality net – GENDER NET
UNITED NATIONS ORGANISATION (UN)
GSGE participates, via a National Delegation, in the Annual Sessions of the UN Committee on Women’s Status and UNESCO and ILO (International Labor Organisation) Annual Sessions.
The General Secretariat for Gender Equality submits regularly, within the framework of its international obligations, the following Reports:
1. Regular Report on the elimination of any kind of discrimination against women (CEDAW Convention). The Report is submitted to the UN every four years. In 2010, the 7th Regular Report shall be produced for the period 2005-2008.
2. Regular Report on the implementation of the Action Plan of the 4th World Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995). This Report is submitted to the UN. In 2009, «Beijing +15» Report has been submitted.
3. Regular Report on implementation of the Recommendation (2002) 5 on Protection of Women against Violence. The Report is submitted to the Council of Europe (Directory Committee for Gender Equality) every two years. The last report was submitted in 2010.
4. Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation on Gender Equality issues. The Report is submitted annually to the European Union. The last one was submitted in 2009 for the Ministerial Conference in Morocco.
In addition, GSGE sends, upon request, any available information and reports to other Organisations, such as the International Labor Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO. Finally, GSGE has developed a cooperation network with foreign Embassies in Greece and is active - within the framework of bilateral and multilateral exchanges - in the field of gender equality promotion.
The following policy making bodies are about to upgrade their operation and redefine their role:
- As proclaimed in 2003, The National Observatory on Combating Violence against Women will be established by the General Secretariat for Equality with the participation of a network of related women organisations.
- Activation and upgrading of the Interministerial Committee for Gender Equality, the aim of which is to promote cross-cutting policies on gender equality and monitor NSRF gender related actions.
- Reformation of the National Committee for Equality between Men and Women (Law 3491/2-10-2006), emphasising the development of consultation and cooperation with women and feminist organisations.
B7. Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI)
KETHI is a powerful and flexible mechanism that supports the work of GSGE. Its notable research activities, and gamut of action plans implemented between 1994 and today, have rendered the Centre a key player for gender equality promotion in Greece. Currently, GSGE is utilising the wide experience and substantial know-how acquired via KETHI projects (documentation, women’s consultation, awareness campaigns, studies / research and publications) to execute the National Programme. More specifically, KETHI shall take on:
a) the role of technical counsellor to NGOs, within the framework of support of women’s organisations and NGOs active in the field of gender equality (PROJECT 12),
b) along with women’s organisations active in the promotion of women in decision-making centres, the main target of this Project (PROJECT 10),
c) The role of scientific coordination in the consultation of women on employment in projects related to enhancing women’s experiences in the labor market (PROJECT 8 & PROJECT 9).
In parallel, KETHI shall continue to implement important Programmes funded by:
- the European Economic Area (EEA) for the support of socially vulnerable population groups and their integration into society (PROJECT 18),
- INTERREG European Territorial Cooperation Programme on information and awareness-raising on gender issues vis-a-vis economic policies at local level (PROJECT 19).