Apr 23

Governmental annual report on gender equality

Economic and Social Council discussed at its meeting on 22.4.2013 the draft of the Summary report on the state of gender equality in Slovakia in 2012 and recommended its approval to the Government. The Government of SR approoved the Report on its session on 24th April. The Report will be presented to the National Parliament of SR.

In the fifth gender equality report Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family presented focus on the gender impact  of the economic crisis on the lives of women and men in Slovakia, as well as on gender relations in work and private life. Structure of the report therefore does not reflect the traditional themes of gender equality as in previous reports, but rather follows the analytical purpose in terms of the gender speciffic impact of the crisis.

Main findings of the report:

In the period 2008 – 2011 a reduction in gender gaps in employment, unemployment, wages and poverty has been recognizable. However, this development has not been a result of a progress in gender equality but rather is based on reduced employment rates, higher unemployment and reduced income particularly for men but also for women. Although the employment rate for women 15-64 years old declined in the recession period, the decline was less intense than in men. Nevertheless, female employment is still far below men´s level.

In Slovakia, the strongest economic sector for employment of both, men and women, remained in 2012 industrial production with about a half of people working in this sector.  In the last years there are visible some gender differences in employment patterns. While after two years of recession the number of men employed in manufacturing began in 2011 and 2012 to increase, the number of women has declined in 2012. A significant decline in the number of employed women in industry suggests that the so-called “female industries” has been hit crisis much later but deeper and more persistent.

Data on the number employed in the industry shows not only significant decline in the labour force, but also changes in the structure of industrial production. Until 2008, the number of employed in industry and industrial production gradually increased with a big turnover in 2009. According to the types of manufacturing comparing the situation in 2012 with 2008, the largest decline experienced the textile and clothing production with a total loss of 16.3 thousand people (since 2001 the decrease was totally 33.3 thousand), followed by wood and paper industries, metals and electrical equipment. The only type of industrial production with an employment increase was the production of car and transport devices.

At the present time, a progressive development is evident in sectors dominated by men (metals and transport equipment manufacturing) while sectors in the long term recession and decline (textiles and clothing) are characterized by a predominance of women. In the textile related industry, more than 90% of employees are women often in higher age and low education status which makes them particularly vulnerable if loosing job. To find a new employment in small cities and rural areas for elderly women is nearly impossible.

The report presents a finding that there is similarity in the behaviour of women and men in this labour market crisis. Limiting or reducing the protection of workers’ rights has affected both, men and women. During the years 2008 – 2010 a continuously growing number of complaints were registered and investigated by labour inspectorates, rising from 4,596 cases in 2008 to 5,834 in 2010. Although labour inspectorates unrecognized any violations of laws on the base of the victim’s gender, the general consensus is that because of the threat of unemployment, people often accept non-standard or precarious working conditions. Men report an increase on precarious work, wage cuts and more often accepting less interesting work. Specific impacts of the crisis on women relate to their impaired de facto protection during pregnancy (despite of the increased de jure level the protection), dismissals during the probationary period and overall deterioration of women with young children.

The similarity in the behaviour of women and men in the labour market is related to the necessity of two incomes in Slovak families. Decline in the share of double income households during the crises was accompanied by an increase in the proportion of households with two adults with a woman as a main income provider. The similarity in the behaviour at the labour market was also reflected in the proportion of discouraged men and women seeking for a job.

Traditionally, women were seen as “dampening shields” or “reserve army” of the labour market; in a time of economy boom they were invited to the labour market while in a time of labour shortages pushed out of the market. During the recent crisis, however, this effect did not appear in Slovakia. The current “damping peaks” are young people, men and women, who cannot find employment or even just a temporary job to start their career. The unemployment rates for young people in Slovakia in 2012 were 32,5% for women and 35% for men.

Gender segregation at the labour market

Slovak labour market belongs to the most gender segregated labour markets in Europe, horizontally and vertically. Despite the increasing proportion of women in leadership and management positions (31% in 2011), significantly more women are employed in lower positions than men. This is a fact regardless of a long term higher educational level of Slovak women.

Index of gender segregation in employment in 2010 reached a value of 31.1 (26.4 EU 27), while in 2008 it was 30.5. Horizontal gender segregation in Slovakia is constructed on a strong predominance of women in the service sector (including public services) and under-representation in industry with mainly male-dominant occupations. Segregation of economic sectors whit an employment of women in public administration, services, education, health etc. has over the years increased. In the early years of the crisis a segregation of the labour market quite successfully protected women’s employment and income.

The differences in the decline in employment rates of women and men are significantly related to the mentioned level of labour market segregation. Men reported comparatively higher decline in employment rates in the beginning of the recession. On the other hand, the gender segregation of the labour market later jeopardizes women’s employment since fiscal consolidation is significantly related to employment and services in the public sector as well as some cuts in social benefits.  If the fiscal consolidation and debt reduction continues in the adoption of cuts in the public sector, women thus become double victims of the crisis.