National ministers are attempting to push for greater equity as part of future EU employment plans.
The EU 2020 strategy for growth and jobs is the main focus of a meeting of employment and social affairs ministers this week.
The need to adopt a universal, equity-focused policy was emphasised in a report by the European Commission Social Protection Committee.
The Committee said that current employment policies need to be made more inclusive.
“[R]ecent employment increases have not sufficiently reached those furthest away from the labour market, and jobs have not always succeeded in lifting people out of poverty,” the report says.
Policies which ensure greater inclusion within society and the labour market are an important part of achieving health equity.
“Political empowerment for health and health equity requires strengthening the fairness by which all groups in a society are included or represented in decision-making,” according to a WHO report on health inequalities.
Gender equality in the workplace and fair treatment for fathers wishing to take parental leave, are among the topics being discussed by EU ministers.
A genuine ability to take action is needed, however, if women are to take advantage of the health benefits from greater gender equity.
“Effective implementation of laws that promote gender equity also requires that women know of and are empowered to claim their rights and challenge gender inequity – by means of expanding their capabilities, particularly through education and paid employment,” the WHO report says.
Also being addressed is the progress of proposed legislation to ensure equal social protection regardless of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Reliable social protection for all is important for health equity.
“It is important for population health in general, and health of lower socioeconomic groups in particular, that social protection systems are designed such that they are universal in scope,” the WHO says.
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council is being chaired by Swedish Minister for Employment Sven Otto Littorin, pictured, and Minister for Integration and Gender Equality Nyamko Sabuni.
More information about the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council can be found here.
Please check this website again for an update on the outcomes of this meeting.
The WHO report can be accessed here.