The Youth and Sustainability: a contradictory commitmentc

1st June 2017, an event triggered the youth around sustainability matters: the United States withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty on climate change.[1] That event marked the start of a strong mobilisation of the youth around the world.

In Europe and worldwide, the media coverage of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg followed by a decisive vote for green political parties during the European elections made visible the collective commitment of the youth to sustainability. Their objective is twofold: to demonstrate that ecology is not the prerogative of a political party or a social class, but also to allow a renewal of the European Union around federative common values.

However, do these young people continue their commitment as individuals or do they sometimes find themselves in contradictions about what is or is not really ecological? So to say: is there really a committment of the youth with sustainability?

The relationship between the youth and sustainability: a renewal in the building of Europe?

The youth and sustainability; why are they committed?

Even when young people are under the legal voting age, they are committed to major issues related to the environment and the future of their planet.[2] Their favourite themes are the degradation of the biodiversity of the oceans, soils, air and climate, light pollution, plastic, deforestation.

The claims vary from one country to another, as progresses in environmental protection are marked by disparities among countries. For example, in the area of packaging deposit, Germany introduced a deposit system for reusable bottles in the 1990s, and for plastic cans and bottles in 2003.[3] Countries such as Denmark, Estonia, Iceland and Sweden have a high collection rate for glass, plastic and aluminium packaging. Other countries such as Finland, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands set up incentives for returnable glass, plastic and aluminium packaging. Last but not least, countries such as France, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Latvia are still considering setting up  a similar system. In terms of transport, the Netherlands, Denmark and Hungary are the European countries whose inhabitants use bicycles as a daily means of travel with 36%, 23% et 22% respectively.[4]

In both Southern and Eastern European Union, climate change is regarded as having an impact on daily life.[5] In Greece, Italia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Hungary and Croatia, more than 90% of citizens consider that climate change has an impact on their daily life, whereas the level rises to 80% among the French, the Polish, the Spanish or the Portuguese and falls to 60% in Sweden, Finland, Denmark or the United Kingdom.

What means do they use? Is there really a link between the youth and sutainability?

The connection between the youth ans sustainability is manifested through marches, student strikes, publications as well as exchanges and challenges on social networks such as the TrashTag Challenge, by posting photos before/after a clean-up of seas, beaches or forests.

Young people committed themselves without any tactical or strategic issues as can be done by political politics, where 51% accuse them of having responsibility for the environment protection. Moreover, 95% believe politicians are not doing “enough” about environmental issues and climate change and 57% say that they are not doing “anything at all”. [6]

You believe that environmental protection is a primary responsibility of…

youth behaviours and sustainability
"you think that the main responsible for environmental issues are: governments and public institutions (51%) citizens (34%) provate companies (15%)"

From an early age, young people are made aware of the need to protect nature and the environment and they have the will to act in the general interest, thinking about their future and future generations. They can then form associations in order to their claims can be heard. The Eurobarometer survey on European youth indicates that 53% of the age range 15 to 30 has joined an association during the year.[7]

This is the case in France with Le lobby de Poissy, a junior association created by Anaïs Willocq, teacher at Michel de Montaigne school in Poissy, and Elsa Grangier, journalist, producer and coordinator of this project[8]. This has been supported by Nicolas Hulot, journalist and former Minister of Ecology and Solidarity Transition and also Hubert Reeves, astrophysicist and ecologist.

Progressively, these actors have succeeded in mobilising 310 children aged 10 to 17 years old, attending school in ten European countries and 27 of their teachers.[9] The Kids for Planet’s Rights collective then formed,[10] every country participated in the drafting of the European Declaration of the Rights of the Planet and the Living, presented at the European Parliament in Strasbourg[11] on Wednesday 27 November 2019, then translated into the 27 languages of the European Union. Its article 18 takes up the concept of ecocide, brought in France by the lawyer Valérie Cabannes[12], stating that “the planet has the right to be represented to take legal actions against any person responsible for excessive pollution”[13].

Lobby Poissy, youth and sustainability
The Lobby of Poissy

The youth and sustainability on behaviours: an individual commitment sometimes contradictory

Ingrained customer habits

This relationship between the youth and sustainability could suggest that young people are also adopting benevolent gestures in their daily lives to protect and fight against climate change. However, a study carried out from 1 to 14 March 2019, involving 1678 young individuals aged 18 to 23, using the quota method, puts into relief that 83% of the Gen Z honestly thinks that they make daily efforts to limit their impact on the environment and 18% say they do a lot,[14] sometimes more than previous generations. In Europe, this is true in only two sectors: transports because they prefer walking, public transport, car-sharing, bicycle and scooters;  the purchasing alternatives of new products favouring the second-hand market, bartering, borrowing.[15]

However, this link between the youth and sustainability is not witnessed by their behaviour as it is not that eco-responsible as one may think. iIn some areas, they seem to make fewer efforts than previous generations.[16]

  • Systematic waste sorting (63%) ;
  • Reducing disposable products consumption (47%) ;
  • Reducing water and energy consumption (46%) ;
  • Systematic purchasing of local produce (25%) ;
  • Using a more ecological means of transport (23%) ;
  • The less frequent and more efficient use of their car (22%) ;
  • Avoid short-haul flights (9%).

Customer and hedonistic habits are still ingrained among young people. They buy new clothes, take advantage of sales to buy more,[17] they do not forgo air travels and do not have the reflex to turn off electronic devices on stand-by.

A lack of knowledge of what is really ecological.

With a great deal of goodwill and conviction, young people intend to adopt a virtuous ecological behaviour. Still, a lack of knowledge persists between what is really an ecological action and what just seems to be an ecological one. The “greenwashing”[18] communication and marketing techniques cloud the issue and do not allow young people to make appropriate and eco-responsible choices. Heeding the sirens call of marketing, they buy ecolabel or organic label products, with biodegradable instead of buying in bulk, or single-use products instead of sustainable containers. Computers are being used instead of television for streaming videos or films and listening to online music has replaced media used by previous generations (vinyl records, compact disc). Although these media seem “green” or “eco-friendly”, in reality, they consume a high quantity of data with a huge ecological impact in terms of CO2. Bicycles and scooters, which they particularly appreciate, may also appear like soft modes of transport, but they are not totally ecological, since they also work with batteries that contain lithium, whose extraction requires a lot of water.[19]

It is therefore necessary to ask which actions could be taken to encourage people to understand what is ecological and what is not really ecological in order to adopt behaviours that this connection between young people and ecology comes to realize. Mentalities are changing in a positive way at a collective and individual level, but what can young people do if they are not well-informed and if the available products are not planet-friendly?

Public policies for the environment protection must be stronger in terms of prevention and awareness-raising through information and communication campaigns targeted to schools, an eco-labelling for environment-friendly and recyclable products, subsidies for the renting or purchasing of goods such as non-electric bicycles and scooters and not only for those that are electric[20], the introduction of laws for manufacturers in order to stop their production of over-packaging products even if they are recyclable, etc..

The economic reason is also between young people and ecology. Organic and eco-responsible products cost is higher than other products and, for of them, their benefits are not significant enough to give-up their consumer trend.[21]   

The transition of mentalities and actions cannot be changed overnight. This could only be efficient and sustainable if it can be carried out smoothly over decades, in line with the principles of the ecological transition that is an evolution towards a new economic and social model and a sustainable development model. [22] The solutions advocated must be thought out, tempered and realistic in order to ensure the results are not the opposite of the expected effect or the decisions taken play into the hands of economic interests or make Europe dependent on world powers (Russia and China).

Thus the European Commission has presented a European Green Deal, a Green Pact for the environment, drawing together european measures to make Europe climate neutral in 2050. Voted by the European Parliament on 7 October 2020, the objective is to reduce 60% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared to 1990 level),[23] but also to reduce the use and risk of pesticides by 2030 in the fields of agriculture and food the “farm to fork” strategy[24] and the protection of biodiversity.

Corinne Ors 


Sources and reference


[2] Anne-Marie Dieu, research director at the Walloon Observatory of  Childhood, Youth and Assistance to Youth.



[5] européenne d’investissement According to a BVA institute survey carried out for the European Investment Bank published Monday 25 of November 2019.



[8] Elsa Grangier, Rêver Grand, Ces enfants qui s’engagent pour la planète, Éditions du Seuil, Paris, mars 2020.

[9] Poland, Finland, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Czech Republic, Croatia, Sweden, France and its overseas departments such as Guyana, la Polynésie Française et la Réunion.



[12] Valérie Cabanes is a jurist in international law specialising in human rights and humanitarian law, ecologist and French essayist.

[13] This recognition of legal and fundamental rights was already adopted in the Constitution of  Ecuador in 2008 and in 2009, Bolivia adopted similar measures. Since 2010, the UN has been proclaiming that harmony with nature must be sought and must support human societies development.

[14] A survey about young people and ecology





[19] Lithium is a rare alkali metal produced in faraway countries (Australia, Chili, Argentina, China)





[24] “The Farm to Fork” strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system constitutes one of the 11 components of the Green Deal. It sets out 5 priorities to be achieved : ensuring food safety, reducing the consumption of pesticides and fertilisers d’engrais, combating antibiotic resistance, supporting innovation and improving consumers’ information. The “Farm to Fork” strategy includes setting targets to reduce in the use of plant  health products, fertilizers and antibiotics, plans to develop organic farming, to combat food waste and fraud in the agri-food supply chain but also the reopening debates about the use of processed animal proteins, the adoption of new technologies for plant breeding or the animal welfare. Source :


The gender employment gap in Europe

The gender employment gap is not as hotly debated as the gender pay gap; nonetheless, it is a crucial issue for the economic recovery of the European Union (EU) and the continuation on the path of female rights embarked upon more than a century ago by the suffragettes[1].

Paid work is possibly the primary means of emancipation and plays a crucial role in defining a person, making them free to self-determine. Performing domestic and caring tasks should be a choice free of any restrictions, be they cultural, social or economic. Furthermore, the role and importance of caring for the weakest (the youth, the elderly and the disabled) should be formally recognised by society and not just informally by families.

Limiting women’s presence in the labour market means limiting talents, skills and capabilities available to the productive part of a country. A 2017 Eurofound report estimates that the economic loss due to the gender employment gap in the EU amounts to more than €370 billion [2]. The analysis also shows that there is significant heterogeneity between different European countries: for Malta, the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) lost each year amounts to 8.2%, for Italy to 5.7% and for Greece to 5%, while at the other end of the spectrum we find Sweden and Lithuania with losses lower than 1.5% of GDP.

Eurofound (2016), The gender employment gap
Eurofound (2016), The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Using the latest available Eurostat data (2019), thus pre-coronavirus[2], the focus of this article is placed on the six most populous EU countries: Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Romania. The following graph highlights the problem within the EU and in these six countries. The employment rate for women is shown in green, the employment rate for men in blue. The difference in percentage points (pp) between male and female employment is shown in the dotted rectangle.

Employment gender data
Employment data by gender, age-cohort 20-64, year 2019, value % and percentage points (pp) - Source: Eurostat and author's computations

The gender employment gap is particularly evident in Poland, Romania and, above all, in Italy – where almost one in two women aged 20-64 is not employed.  The gap is also clearly visible in Spain, where the differential is nearly 12 percentage points, exceeding the EU average of 11.4 pp.

The importance of policies reducing gender employment gap

Unequal gender representation in the labour market is an expression of a long-standing patriarchal legacy. To change this it is needed a cultural shift, accompanied by reforms to tackle the gender employment gap. Let us then look at some of the policies introduced by France and Germany to boost female employment.

FR – Chèque emploi service universel: a voucher system introduced in 2006 through which domestic and childcare workers can be paid. The voucher simplifies the procedure of hiring, paying and contracting these figures, combining a tax incentive (expenses are deductible) and co-financing opportunities [3][3].

DE – Perspektive Wiedereinstieg: A support programme for women who have been out of the labour market for more than three years for family reasons. It offers professional assistance -both online and face to face- as well as training courses and tax incentives for employers [4].

FR – Complémente de libre choix du mode de garde: a financial compensation aimed at covering part of the costs of childcare for children up to six years old [5].

DE – Elterngeld: a parenting allowance to which parents are entitled if they reduce their number of working hours to less than 30 per week during the child’s first year. The funding is equivalent to the claimant’s corresponding salary if he or she had continued to work full-time. With different methodologies, also students and unemployed people can benefit as well [6].

DE – Pflegezeitgesetz und Familienpflegezeitgesetz: A legal provision allowing employees to take unpaid leave to care for immediate family members. The leave can be short – 10 days – or long – with a reduction of working hours up to a maximum of 15 per week for up to two years [7].

FR – La Charte de la Paternité en Enterprise: a charter of intents to be signed – on a voluntary basis – by companies that want to commit to the work-life balance of their employees. The aim is to guarantee more flexibility in working hours and to create an environment with an eye on employees with children, respecting the principle of non-discrimination in the career development of those with children [8].

I think it is important to highlight two recurrent elements in the policies listed above. The first is their flexibility: the burdens and benefits of companies and workers are modulated on a case-by-case basis and change as situations change. In fact, too rigid impositions may negatively influence employers, who may be inclined to prefer hiring a man rather than a woman. One example is the case of compulsory maternity leave: in France and Germany this is respectively 16 and 14 weeks, compared to 21 in Italy [9], [10]. The second element is that of inclusion: almost all the policies listed above are not aimed exclusively at women, but they rather try not to discriminate on the basis of gender. Returning to the example of maternity leave, a reduction in maternity leave in countries where it is very long should correspond to a lengthening of paternity leave. In this respect, Italy and Romania are adapting to the demands of the European Commission, reaching the European minimum standard of ten days of leave for neo fathers.

Finally, another important aspect of some of the policies listed above is that they lower the cost of childcare: this, in turn, reduces the incentive for the second earner (which often corresponds to the woman) to stay at home with the children not to incur the costs of kindergartens, summer camps and all childcare services. These policies also have a positive impact on the birth rate, an endemic problem in many European countries.

The level of education in the female employment rate

Education attainment is generally considered one of the strongest predictors of employability. This is confirmed in all six countries under review, for which a higher level of education corresponds to higher employment rates across the populations.

Below are the employment rates for women aged 20-34 by level of education, where Low indicates that the highest education attainment was that of compulsory education or less, Medium refers to a high-school diploma, and High to University or postgraduate education.

Female employment rate by education level
Female employment rate by education level, age cohort 20-34, year 2019, value % - Source: Eurostat

It is evident from the graph that a high level of education on average corresponds to a higher employment rate. This is particularly evident in Poland, where the employment rate between women with a low education level and those with a high-level changes by 60 percentage points. In Germany, on the other hand, the employment rate among those with a secondary school education (Medium) is very close to that of those with a university degree (High). This peculiarity could be attributed to the strong presence of vocational schools that prepare for the labour market already during the upper secondary education.

Promoting learning is therefore also a useful tool for closing the gender gap in the employment rate. Countries such as Romania and Italy -with a gap of more than 19 percentage points- could thus benefit from positive effects in the labour market by providing more incentives for female higher education.

It is interesting to note that, with the exception of Germany, girls tend to be more likely to complete tertiary education than boys[4].

tertiary education by gender
Share of population with tertiary education by gender, age cohort 15-64, year 2019, value % - Source: Eurostat and author's computations

Gender employment gap and the role of women in the future of the EU

The relaunch of the European Union should also pass through women and a renewed recognition of their role in society. To do so would be not only fair, but also necessary. For this reason, the European institutions have decided to tie all the funds of the multiannual budget and of the Next Generation EU destined to climate change mitigation and adaptation (a slice of 30% of the total, corresponding to about €547 billion) to projects with an eye on the gender employment gap. Thus setting the direction for the future: a transition towards environmental sustainability free from gender discriminations [12].

Despite the EU’s clear stance, some expected more: Alexandra Geese, MEP for the Greens/EFA, launched a petition asking that the funds allocated to digitalisation should also focus on women and their rights in the labour market. This would bring half of the Next Generation EU package’s total expenditure to projects attentive to the gender employment gap. The proposal may seem disproportionate, but given the extent of gender inequality in the labour market perhaps it is not so disproportionate after all.

 Giovanni Sgaravatti


[1]  Women’s emancipation movements and demands for the right to vote appeared all over the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, although immediately after the French Revolution (in 1791) Olympe de Gouges wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens, in which she declared political and social equality between men and women. [1]

[2] Recent studies indicate that the employment gap in some developed countries will widen after the crisis. This is because the woman is more often the partner with the lowest income, who therefore decides to give up work to look after children during school closures. Moreover, in some countries women’s employment is higher in the most affected sectors, such as retail and catering [4], [5].

[3]  A similar instrument also exists in Italy, but unfortunately it does not seem to be bearing the desired results [3b].

[4] The phenomenon is also present in Germany in the younger population: those between 20 and 34 years of age.


[1] Dai primitivi al post-moderno: tre percorsi di saggi storico-antropologici, di Vittorio Lanternari, Liguori Editore, 351

[2] Eurofound: The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions, Luxembourg 2016, Publications Office of the European Union.

[3] Le Cesu, qu’est-ce que c’est

[3b] Prestazioni di lavoro occasionale: libretto famiglia

[4] Perspektive Wiedereinstieg: Startseite


[6]Elterngeld und ElterngeldPlus



[9] COVID-19 and the gender gap in advanced economies | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal

[10] Il 98% di chi ha perso il lavoro è donna, il Covid è anche una questione di genere 

[10b]  (Occupati e disoccupati (dati provvisori)

[11] File:Total fertility rate, 1960–2018 (live births per woman).png – Statistics Explained

[12] The 2021-2027 EU budget – What’s new? | European Commission

Disparità occupazionale di genere in Europa

La disparità occupazionale non è un tema tanto dibattuto quanto la disparità salariale, ma si tratta nondimeno di un aspetto cruciale per la ripartenza economica dei paesi dell’Unione Europea (UE) e per il proseguimento sulla strada dei diritti di genere intrapresa più di un secolo fa dalle suffragette[1].

Il lavoro retribuito è il mezzo di emancipazione per eccellenza e gioca un ruolo chiave nel definire una persona, rendendola libera di autodeterminarsi. Assolvere compiti domestici e di cura del prossimo dovrebbe dipendere da una scelta priva di restrizioni di sorta, siano esse culturali, sociali o economiche. Inoltre, il ruolo e l’importanza della cura dei più deboli, bambini, anziani e disabili, dovrebbero essere riconosciuti a livello sistemico e non solamente informale.

Limitare la presenza delle donne nel mercato del lavoro significa limitare talenti, competenze e capacità a disposizione della parte produttiva di un paese. Uno studio dell’Eurofound del 2017 stima che la perdita economica per il divario occupazionale in UE ammonti a più di €370 miliardi [2]. L’analisi mostra anche come ci sia grande eterogeneità tra i diversi paesi europei: per Malta la percentuale di prodotto interno lordo (PIL) persa ogni anno ammonta all’8,2%, per l’Italia al 5,7% e per la Grecia al 5%, mentre dall’altro estremo dello spettro troviamo Svezia e Lituania con perdite inferiori all’1,5% del PIL.

disparitá occupazionale di genere in UE
Eurofound (2016), The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

Utilizzando gli ultimi dati Eurostat disponibili (2019), quindi pre-coronavirus[2], il focus di quest’articolo viene riposto sui sei paesi UE più popolosi: Germania, Francia, Italia, Spagna, Polonia e Romania. Il seguente grafico evidenzia la problematica all’interno dell’UE e nei sei paesi menzionati. In verde è rappresentato il tasso di occupazione femminile, mentre in blu quello maschile. Nel rettangolo tratteggiato viene messa in risalto la differenza in punti percentuali tra occupazione maschile e femminile.

Dati sull'occupazione per genere - disparità occupazionale
Dati sull'occupazione per genere nella d'etá fascia 20-64 nel 2019 in valori e punti percentuali (pp) Fonte: Eurostat e calcoli dell'autore

La disparità occupazionale è particolarmente evidente in Polonia, Romania e, soprattutto, in Italia -dove quasi una donna su due tra i 20 e i 64 anni non ha un impiego retribuito. Nondimeno, lo stacco è ben visibile anche nel mercato del lavoro spagnolo, dove il differenziale è di quasi 12 punti percentuali, superando la media UE di 11,4.

L’importanza delle politiche di contrasto alla disparità occupazionale di genere

La disparità occupazionale di genere è espressione di un retaggio patriarcale di lungo corso. Per cambiare le cose è necessario un cambio di paradigma culturale, accompagnato da riforme di contrasto alla disparità occupazionale di genere. Vediamo dunque alcune politiche introdotte da Francia e Germania per incentivare l’occupazione femminile.

FR – Chèque emploi service universel: un sistema di voucher introdotto nel 2006 tramite il quale si possono pagare lavoratrici e lavoratori domestici, così come chi si occupa di assistenza all’infanzia, siano queste figure professionali di un’agenzia o esterne. Il voucher semplifica la procedura di assunzione, pagamento e messa in regola di queste figure, unendo anche un incentivo fiscale (le spese sono detraibili) e opportunità di co-finanziamento[3] [3].

DEPerspektive Wiedereinstieg: un programma di sostegno alle donne che sono state fuori dal mercato del lavoro per più di tre anni per ragioni familiari. Offre assistenza professionale -sia telematica che di persona- oltre a corsi di formazione e incentivi fiscali per i datori di lavoro [4].

FR Complémente de libre choix du mode de garde: un corrispettivo economico mirato a coprire parte delle spese di custodia dei bambini fino a sei anni [5].

DE – Elterngeld: un assegno di genitorialità al quale hanno diritto i genitori che riducono il loro numero di ore lavorate a meno di 30 settimanali nel primo anno dell’infante. L’indennità equivale alla paga corrispondente dell’avente diritto se questo continuasse a lavorare a tempo pieno. Con metodologie diverse, ne possono beneficiare anche studenti e disoccupati [6].

DE – Pflegezeitgesetz und Familienpflegezeitgesetz: una norma di legge che autorizza gli impiegati a prendere un congedo non pagato per la cura di familiari prossimi. Il congedo può essere corto –di 10 giorni– o lungo -con una riduzione delle ore lavorative fino ad un massimo di 15 a settimana fino a due anni- [7].

FR – La Charte de la Paternité en Enterprise: una carta d’intenti da sottoscrivere -su base volontaria- dalle imprese che si vogliono impegnare nell’equilibrio lavoro-famiglia dei propri dipendenti. Lo scopo è quello di garantire più flessibilità nell’orario lavorativo e di creare un ambiente con un occhio di riguardo per i dipendenti con bambini, rispettando il principio di non-discriminazione nell’evoluzione di carriera di chi ha figli [8].

Credo che sia importante evidenziare due elementi ricorrenti nelle politiche sopra elencate. Il primo è l’aspetto di flessibilità: gli oneri e i benefici di aziende e lavoratrici sono modulabili caso per caso e cambiano al variare delle situazioni. Infatti, imposizioni troppo rigide possono influenzare negativamente i datori di lavoro, che potrebbero essere portati a preferire l’assunzione di un uomo piuttosto che di una donna. Si pensi ad esempio al caso del congedo di maternità obbligatorio: in Francia e in Germania questo è rispettivamente di 16 e 14 settimane, contro le 21 dell’Italia [9] [10]. Il secondo elemento è quello di inclusione: quasi tutte le politiche sopra elencate non sono rivolte esclusivamente alle donne, ma anzi si cerca di non fare discriminazioni di genere. Tornando all’esempio del congedo di maternità, una sua riduzione nei paesi dove questo è molto lungo dovrebbe corrispondere ad un allungamento di quello di paternità. In questo Italia e Romania si stanno adeguando alle richieste della Commissione Europea, raggiungendo lo standard minimo europeo di dieci giorni.

Infine, un altro aspetto importante di alcune politiche sopra elencate è quello della diminuzione del costo da affrontare per la cura degli infanti: così facendo si riduce l’incentivo del partner con il salario più basso (che spesso corrisponde alla donna) a stare a casa con i figli per non incorrere nelle spese di asili nido, centri estivi e tutti i servizi dell’infanzia. Queste politiche, inoltre, hanno un impatto positivo sulla natalità, problema endemico di molti paesi europei (Francia guarda caso esclusa[4]).

Il livello di istruzione nel tasso di occupazione femminile

Un indicatore chiave del tasso di occupazione è rappresentato dal livello di istruzione. Difatti, in tutti e sei i paesi sotto scrutinio, il livello di istruzione è uno dei fattori determinanti nella previsione di impiego.

Qui di seguito vengono riportate le percentuali occupazionali femminili tra i 20 e i 34 anni per livello di istruzione, dove Low indica un livello basso, corrispondente al ciclo di studi obbligatorio o inferiore, Medium un livello medio, con il raggiungimento di un diploma di scuola superiore e High un livello alto, universitario o post-universitario.

Occupazione femminile per livello d'educazione
Tasso di occupazione femminile per livello di istruzione, coorte di età 20-34, anno 2019, valore % Fonte Eurostat

Dal grafico risulta evidente come un alto livello di educazione corrisponda ad un tasso d’impiego più elevato. Questo è particolarmente evidente in Polonia, dove il tasso di occupazione tra le donne con un basso livello di educazione e quelle con un livello elevato cambia di 60 punti percentuali. In Germania d’altro canto, il tasso di occupazione tra chi ha un livello di istruzione di scuola secondaria è molto vicino a quello di chi ha un’educazione universitaria. Questa peculiarità è probabilmente dovuta alla forte presenza di istituti tecnici superiori che preparano al mondo del lavoro già durante il secondo ciclo di studi.

Incentivare l’educazione si rivela quindi uno strumento utile anche per colmare la disparità occupazionale di genere nel mercato del lavoro. Paesi come la Romania e l’Italia –con una differenza occupazionale di oltre 19 punti percentuali- potrebbero quindi beneficiare di effetti positivi nel mercato del lavoro incentivando maggiormente l’istruzione universitaria femminile.

Il seguente grafico mostra la percentuale di laureati all’interno della popolazione dei sei paesi in esame: è interessante notare come, ad esclusione della Germania, le ragazze siano tendenzialmente più portate a terminare anche l’ultimo ciclo di studi.[5]

% di popolazione con educazione universitaria
% di popolazione con educazione universitaria per genere, etá 15-64, anno 2019, valori in %. Fonte: Eurostat e calcoli dell'autore

La disparità occupazionale e il ruolo della donna nei piani dell’UE

Il rilancio dell’Unione Europea dovrebbe passare anche attraverso le donne e un rinnovato riconoscimento del loro ruolo nella società. Farlo non sarebbe solamente giusto, ma anche necessario. Per questo le istituzioni europee hanno deciso di vincolare tutti i fondi del bilancio pluriennale e del Next Generation EU destinati alla mitigazione e l’adattamento dei cambiamenti climatici (una fetta del 30% del totale, corrispondente a circa €547 miliardi) a progetti attenti all’equità di genere. Impostando quindi la direzione per il futuro: una transizione verso la sostenibilità ambientale libera da discriminazioni di genere [12].

Nonostante la chiara presa di posizione dell’UE, c’è chi si aspettava di più: Alexandra Geese, Europarlamentare dei Verdi/EFA, ha lanciato una petizione chiedendo che anche i fondi destinati alla digitalizzazione mettano al centro la donna e i suoi diritti, arrivando quindi a metà di tutta la spesa del pacchetto Next Generation EU. La proposta può sembrare sproporzionata, ma vista l’entità’ della disparità occupazionale di genere nel mercato del lavoro, forse non lo è poi così tanto.

Giovanni Sgaravatti

[1] Movimenti di emancipazione femminile e di richiesta di voto sono apparsi a macchia d’olio un po’ in tutto il mondo verso la fine del 1800 e l’inizio del ‘900, anche se già’ subito dopo la rivoluzione Francese (nel 1791) Olympe de Gouges scrisse la Dichiarazione dei diritti della donna e della cittadina, in cui dichiarava l’uguaglianza politica e sociale tra uomo e donna. [1]

[2] Recenti studi indicano come il divario occupazionale in alcuni paesi sviluppati sia destinato ad allargarsi dopo la crisi. Questo perché la donna è più spesso il partner con il reddito minore, che quindi decide di rinunciare al lavoro per accudire i bambini durante la chiusura delle scuole. Inoltre in alcuni paesi l’occupazione femminile e’ più’ alta nei settori maggiormente colpiti, come quelli della vendita al dettaglio e della ristorazione [4], [5].   

[3] Anche in Italia esiste uno strumento simile, che purtroppo però non sembra dare i frutti sperati [3b].

[4] Nel 2018 la Francia aveva un tasso di fertilità di 1,88 figli per donna, contro l’1,29 dell’Italia  [11]

[5] Il fenomeno è presente anche in Germania nella popolazione più giovane tra I 20 e I 34 anni.


[1] Dai primitivi al post-moderno: tre percorsi di saggi storico-antropologici, di Vittorio Lanternari, Liguori Editore, 351

[2] Eurofound: The gender employment gap: Challenges and solutions, Luxembourg 2016, Publications Office of the European Union.

[3] Le Cesu, qu’est-ce que c’est

[3b] Prestazioni di lavoro occasionale: libretto famiglia

[4] Perspektive Wiedereinstieg: Startseite


[6]Elterngeld und ElterngeldPlus



[9] COVID-19 and the gender gap in advanced economies | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal

[10] Il 98% di chi ha perso il lavoro è donna, il Covid è anche una questione di genere 

[10b]  (Occupati e disoccupati (dati provvisori)

[11] File:Total fertility rate, 1960–2018 (live births per woman).png – Statistics Explained

[12] The 2021-2027 EU budget – What’s new? | European Commission


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