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In the past women have done a variety of jobs: from working in factories during war periods to steamming tobacco leaves.
Women's employment is one of those evergreen issues in the agenda of the old continent. Besides dusty stereotypes that still relegate women to few sectors of care and other social needs, the problem of women's employment has been worsened by the recent economic crisis. E&M author Nicoletta Enria approaches the topic and unveils European trends when it comes to women's education, wages and their presence in decision-making positions.
In the past couple of years, issues regarding gender equality have entered mainstream discourse with cries for gender parity by the likes of American actress Patricia Arquette in her Oscar acceptance speech and British actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign calling for men to join the battle. Although proposals for gender equality in the economic, political and cultural spheres seem to have become popular again, how far has this actually gone in providing concrete progress for women? With a backdrop of financial instability bringing forth a rise in unemployment and austerity measures, what is the European job market looking like for women nowadays?
The European Commission stated in its 2014 Report on Equality between Men and Women that gender equality is not only a fundamental right but is also essential for economic growth. Needless to say, the financial crisis affected a whole generation, resulting in a sharp rise in unemployment, especially for young people. However, the proportion of inactive young women remains double that of young men. Austerity measures in countries such as Greece have led to cuts in public, health and care sectors — all sectors which normally employ women. This is leading to a rise in women unemployment and a rise in unpaid care work for women, with currently 45% of Greek women living below the poverty threshold. This also casts a light on the problem of occupational segregation, which is when your gender defines what ranking or job you get based on gender stereotypes deeply engrained in our society.
Wise words from the master of fantasy or just a bit of a joke?
Another week, another selection of journalistic gems, compiled by one of the E&M editorial team: Frances Jackson on the death of Terry Pratchett, untold stories of those seeking asylum in Europe and a group of particularly determined French cycling enthusiasts.
Frances, Diaphragm / Baby editor
A fond farewell
It is just over a month since one of the brightest literary lights of the last 30 years went out. Whether his most famous books took place for you in the Disque-monde, Zeměplocha, Scheibenwelt or Mundodisco, the magic of Terry Pratchett remains the same. His humour could be biting, but never caustic; the universe he created an escapist fantasy, and yet so very familiar; his stories simply unputdownable.
The Discworld novels have been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. They were the audiobooks that alleviated boredom on long drives down France during the summer holidays, the increasingly care-worn paperbacks we passed back and forth amongst family and friends, the television adaptations we used to get so excited about as children. I don’t mind admitting that I got a little teary when I heard the news that Sir Terry's struggle with early-onset Alzheimer's was over. The loss, not just to the genre, but I think also perhaps to the world as a whole, is immense. The ranks of those rare few who have a real understanding of human nature, who recognise the follies of man, but have not lost their faith in humanity, are bereft of one of their finest standard-bearers.
|Photo: Rosaura Ochoa (Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0
The double-sided nature of Twitter and social media in general
It takes few seconds. 140 characters or a post on Facebook and we can share our ideas and go viral. But are we really aware of the consequences a single and easy gesture like pushing the button "tweet" or "publish" can have? Are we free to speak our mind online without worrying we are using a device or a type of connection which might get us in trouble? E&M author Petya Yankova interviewed Sanja Kelly, project director of an initiative called Freedom on the Net, about the findings of their latest report on freedom of expression online. What are the latest debates centred on and what is the response of young people in Europe to getting their rights infringed?
Meeting Belarusians for the first time, foreigners might not understand why every time someone makes a joke, they would put their wrists in front of their lips to whisper "Lukashenko". It’s an elusive reference for the commonly spread knowledge of governmental surveillance within the country. The name of the Belarusian president has become a synonym for the Big Brother, always watching from the shadows. Is there another country in Europe which recognises and still makes fun of repressions and privacy violations? Even the gesture-loving Italians do not have a hand movement for giving away your privacy involuntarily.
Belarus in only one of the countries where freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other human rights are under threat. Violations of these fundamental rights invariably extend online but Ukraine's northern neighbour is far from being the only country in Europe where websites are banned, political content blocked and user rights blatantly disregarded.
Alice Baruffato on the theme of Pegida
For sure, the far right movement holds the headlines and has conquered a firm place in the debate about European integration. But it also seems to have to face some internal problems and a general lack of supporters, as the anti-Pegida and pro-Europe movements are shouting out loud their ideas in many German cities.
Who is this "full-blood" Saxon ancestor fighting against? An imaginary enemy, finding himself alone on what he thinks is a battle field in the contemporary Saxony/Germany...
Photo: Tobias Melzer
On the Tumski Bridge in Wrocław
As part of a new feature for Sixth Sense, E&M photographer Tobias Melzer will be exploring lesser-known European towns and cities on look out for hidden gems and unexpected wonder. First up is the Polish city of Wrocław, a place of decidedly mixed heritage.
It is hard to imagine a city that sums up the tangled histories of Central Europe better than Wrocław. Straddling the Oder, itself a river that unites Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, Wrocław has seen the rise and fall of many an empire. Whether as part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the Duchy of Silesia, the Habsburg Monarchy or Weimar Germany, Wrocław has always maintained its position as a cultural hub and will in fact be a European Capital of Culture in 2016.
Since the terms of the Potsdam Conference saw Wrocław pass to Poland in 1945, it has grown to become the forth largest Polish city, with a population of over 600,000. The architectural variety of the city gives an insight into its chequered past. The university, in particular, with its exquisite Aula Leopoldina and the stunning views to be had from the Mathematics Tower, harks back to the days when the city went by the name of Breslau and was counted among the most revered seats of learning in the German-speaking lands. Nowadays, Wrocław is also home to a number of dwarf figurines (known as krasnale in Polish), whose presence – besides the obvious tourist appeal – commemorates local opposition to communsim. Graffiti dwarfs were the calling-card of the underground movement Pomarańczowa Alternatywa (Orange Alternative) during the 1980s.
|Photo: Ulf Bodin; Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Denmark wants to rebrand the Swedish district of Skåne "Greater Copenhagen". This picture was taken in Olovsfält, Hammenhög, Skåne, July 2013
In this week’s edition of Good Reads, E&M's Rosamund Mather shares some articles that got her thinking about Europe. Follow her inside an Estonian green movement that made its way across Europe and became popular worldwide. Broadening the meaning of identity, Rosamund shares an article on LGBT rights in Europe, starting with a recent story from France, and an article about Denmark's idea to rebrand part of Sweden “Greater Copenhagen”.
Rosamund, Heart/Baby editor
Greater Copenhagen: A spot of contention
As far as succinct and provocative headlines go, "Denmark wants to rebrand part of Sweden Greater Copenhagen" does its job; it got me asking all sorts of questions about common identities between countries that are in very close proximity to one another.
Skåne, a southern part of Sweden separated from the Danish archipelago only by a bridge, is the proposed Greater Copenhagen. And many residents of this region are up in arms about it. Why should they surrender a part of Sweden to Denmark, even if only in name?
But would a Greater Copenhagen really threaten Swedish identity? After all, Berlin doesn’t define Germany, and London most certainly doesn’t define the entire UK. If it weren’t for the violent history mentioned in the first paragraph – which represents a power imbalance between the two countries, making a fully-realised Greater Copenhagen somewhat problematic – then we’d probably just assume it was to do with that bizarre allegiance to the nation your passport happens to belong to. And Copenhagen happens to be a Danish city, not a Swedish one.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we've set out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe.
Here at E&M, we don't just want to know what young Europeans think about Europe, we also want to find out how they see and feel the continent. Sixth Sense plays host to a photo competition called Europe Through a Lens and we regularly publish a selection of our readers' photographic work. All you have to do is submit images that you think best represent our selected European theme.
This time around, we've chosen "Europe on the move" as our theme and you're free to interpret this however you like. Entries could be images of anything from early-morning commuters or lunchtime joggers to migrating birds – it's all down to you and your powers of imagination!
Photo: Tobias Melzer
St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the Bavarian capital
With Ireland and Irish diasporas around the world honouring their patron saint today, E&M photographer Tobias Melzer takes a look at continental Europe's largest St. Patrick's Day parade, an emerald extravaganza of good cheer and cultural diversity that has been held annually in the German city of Munich since 1995.
When it comes to exportability, there's no saint quite like Patrick. His appeal seems to know no bounds and St. Patrick's Day parades have caught on in just about every corner of the world. This year will also see a number of European landmarks, including the Colosseum in Rome, Montmartre's Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the London Eye being illuminated in verdant hues as part of Tourism Ireland's "Global Greening".
Though Munich is perhaps best known for its beer halls and Brezen, not to mention the world-famous Oktoberfest, there is a least one day a year when being Bavarian takes a back seat and the city embraces other cultural traditions. Now in its 20th year, the Munich St. Patrick's Day parade not only showcases the breadth of the Irish community's cultural endeavours here – everything from hurling to folk dance – but also gives a platform to other nations represented in the city. The 2015 edition, which took place last Sunday, featured contributions from as far afield as Slovenia. In a show of international understanding, leprechauns mingled with Lederhosen-clad musicians, a certain dark beer flowed freely alongside German Helles and even the lord mayor of Munich got on stage to sing a duet of "Whiskey in the Jar". Saint Patrick would surely have been proud.
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