Women’s History Month has been celebrated around the world this month, and governments across Western Europe have used the opportunity to advance some key women’s rights in the region. YPulse’s recent WE Causes / Charity and Activism Report shows that gender equality is among young Europeans’ top 10 social causes they’re the most passionate about, more so among Gen Z: gender equality ranks seventh on the list of the top social causes they care about the most. These generations aspire to gender equality, and are looking for structural support for their beliefs. While in the U.S. legislation seems to be moving backwards on this front, governments in Western Europe are instead taking their cues to introduce laws, bills, and other measures that are designed to support women in these countries. Here are three examples that show you how women’s rights have been boosted in the past month in Western Europe:
France is putting abortion rights in the Constitution
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, meaning abortion is not guaranteed by constitutional rights in the country. YPulse told you how Gen Z and Millennials were among the first to speak out and how they took to social media (TikTok especially) in overwhelming numbers to spread information about the decision, express disagreement, and organize fundraising and protests across the country. These gens are reportedly “terrified” of a post Roe world, and it’s having an impact on the way they’re considering relationships, intimacy, and hook-up culture altogether. Data from YPulse’s Causes / Charity & Activism Report reveals that abortion / birth control jumped up on the list of top causes young Americans are passionate about compared with last year.
In reaction to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the French Parliament voted in favor of abortion rights to be enshrined in the Constitution last Fall, but no deadline was given so far. Now, French President Emmanuel Macron has committed to pushing for the constitutional change in the coming months. In the words of the French President, this move is meant to offer “a solemn guarantee that nothing can ever limit or abolish this right because it will have become irreversible.” And this is the reflection of a social issue close to young Europeans’ hearts, with YPulse’s research showing that abortion / birth control is among the top 15 social causes European Gen Z and Millennials are most passionate about.
Spain passed a bill to allow menstrual leaves
YPulse told you how Spain has recently made the headlines for the self-determination bill, allowing people aged 16 and above to change their gender without going through a long medical process. Now, Spain is tackling the little-discussed-but-very-real issue of menstruation pain, and its impact on the career of working women. The Spanish parliament passed a law giving the right for a “menstrual leave,” underscoring the efforts the country is making toward gender equality. Thanks to the new bill, women will be eligible for a three-day paid menstrual leave, with an option to extend it to five days if needed. Irene Montero, the Spanish Equality Minister, called the vote “a historic day of progress for feminist rights.”
Young Europeans have been pushing to destigmatize menstruation and periods for a while, and have helped to bring conversations around the topic into the mainstream—and parliament. For example, last summer, Scotland made history by becoming the first country in the world to provide free period products. Local authorities are now required to provide free tampons and sanitary pads to “anyone who needs them.”
The U.K. expands free childcare
Parents in the U.K. spend on average more than 25% of their salary on childcare-related costs, making it one of the most expensive countries to raise a child. Add that to the cost-of-living crisis, inflation, and high rents, and many young parents are left with no other choice than to give up work to take care of their children, and it’s women who are disproportionately impacted by the lack of support in the country. A recent study found that two-thirds of women believe the lack of childcare support has hindered their career progression, including salary raises, promotion, and overall career development. A staggering 90% of women surveyed also said more help was needed when it comes to childcare. As a response, the British government has expanded free childcare to cover all children under five-years-old, and make childcare free for working parents in England by 2025.
Ultimately, the British government’s plans aim at boosting economic growth since the rising cost of childcare has been a setback for parents to go back to work or work full time. Data from YPulse’s WE Millennial Parenting shows that 75% of Millennial parents in the U.K. say they underestimated how much it costs to raise children, a number significantly higher than other European countries.