Seminar on women at work - Raising the profile of women and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH)
This seminar assessed the health and safety situation of women at work within the European Union (EU). It was held over one day and included speakers and facilitators from seven EU countries. The main role and purpose involved engaging stakeholders in a strategic discussion about women's issues within the work environment. In 2009 and 2010, the Agency commissioned an update to its previous research on gender issues at work, which found that inequality both inside and outside the workplace can have an effect on the health and safety of women at work. This new report also provides a policy perspective and is meant to fulfil the task outlined by the European strategy on health and safety at work for EU-OSHA´s European Risk Observatory, “examining the specific challenges in terms of health and safety posed by the more extensive integration of women in the labour market”. During the seminar, a series of short presentations focused on research, practice and policy were made by experts to trigger discussion with the participants. On the basis of these presentations and subsequent discussions, all participants were invited to propose some priorities for research, actions, and some concrete ways forward regarding gender mainstreaming into EU and national policies. Experts were from the fields of equalities, occupational safety and health, public health, and monitoring, and cover EU institutions and national actors. Progress has been made, overall, the greater focus on women who work, in respect of their OSH, was noted, but there are still gaps within the research, within the policy and within the prevention measures that are in place at present. For example, women are still less likely to receive training at the workplace and less likely to have support and control within their jobs. Further, women and men remain segregated across and between sectors and across and within jobs. While the gender aspect of OSH has to remain on the various work-related agendas, this has to be gender focused, rather than women-focused, in order to ensure that the working environment becomes safer for the employee regardless of gender, age, education level and diverse group to which they belong. Gender mainstreaming i.e. ensuring gender equality through policy development, research, legislation, resources and the planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects, is still a primary focus in the workplace.