Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe

Challenges of pregnancy and motherhood in the workplace

On Tuesday 19th February, Femina Europa organized a conference on “Challenges of pregnancy and motherhood in the workplace” hosted by MEP Anna Zaborska (EPP, Slovakia) at the European Parliament.

Marine de Poncins (Founder of the French Association “Les Prestigieuses”) reported on harassment related to maternity or pregnancy encountered by women at the workplace. Her organisation is aiming at finding ways of conciliating work and pregnancy. She explained the tendency in Europe to connect maternity with feelings of worthlessness, loss of social status, exclusion for pregnant women. An explanation to these tendencies is the so-called liberation of woman seeking for woman’s autonomy, while maternity is seen as bondage. Now women should perform at work, and maternity has to fit in this framework. There is a current “Defeminization” of the feminine, letting space for hostile behaviours toward children. Nevertheless, “Les Prestigieuses” seeks to share a positive message on maternity, as it helps grow in mankind.

Jacques Bichot, French economist, introduced to the notions of investment in human capital. There should be a budget dedicated to women’s maternity, as women are co-investors in human capital at national and European level. Women would be more able to work and more performant. Maternity grants should be given to enterprises each time one woman is in a situation of pregnancy. As such, she would not be perceived as heavyweight, but as a source of income. This proposition would rather lead to more economic efficiency. MEP Anna Zaborska underlined that household work and care activities undergone by women did not exist as long as they are not taken into consideration in statistics.

Esther Pivet (author and whistle-blower on educational topics) shared insights on pregnancy and maternity in the French educational system. The French High Council for Equality used different means such as one project entitled: “Eliminating gendered stereotypes and deconstruct social roles”. However, the scientific knowledge teaches us about sexual differences. All cells of our body are gendered. Hormonal systems are also linked to the biological sex. Furthermore, there is a number of policies creating a tension between feminine and masculine identity, and aiming at inverting the nature, the masculine with the feminine; but nature is innate, and culture is here to develop potentials that are innate to each human being.

Different resolutions have already been issued by the European Parliament this last fifteen years on the subject, and need to be recalled and implemented further at national level. FAFCE also promoted a Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (8 June 2018), which clearly states “that maternity and motherhood must be supported and protected within the workplace and must not be treated as though they were impediments for a woman’s career”. The same Resolution also asks to “consider recognising unremunerated household and caregiving work at the policy level and in the pension system, so as to guarantee an adequate treatment to women and men choosing caring responsibilities”. There is a need of spreading this documents and to implement them at the national level: the conference organised by Femina Europa offered a valid contribution in this sense.


Let's pray for the treasure of Families!

Let's join Pope Francis in his universal prayer intention for the month of August
 Brussels, the 1st of August 2018
Dear Friend,
With this message we would like to invite you to respond to the call of Pope Francis asking our prayers for the treasure of Families in this month of August. He entrusted this universal intention to the Apostleship of Prayer, the Pope's worlwide prayer network.
This prayer, this month, becomes particularly important if we think that on 21-26 August we will celebrate the World Meeting of Familiesin Dublin, Ireland. As we said in our last newsletter, last month, we strongly believe in the importance of this gathering, in order to announce the beauty of the family and we value particularly prophetic the choice of Pope Francis to organize it in a Country wounded by a couple of historical legislative changes, denaturing the institution of civil marriage in 2015 and, last May, repealing protections for the right to life of the unborn.
May the World Meeting of Families be a moment of announce of the Gospel to all and especially to Europe, an old continent which is closed to life. We need a demographic Spring to look towards the future. For that reasons, the words of St. John Paul II, speaking at the 1st World Meeting of Families in 1994 in Rome are extremely relevant today, when he mentioned the encyclical Humanae Vitae, indicating "the criteria for safeguarding the couple's love from the danger of hedonistic selfishness". This encyclical, of which we celebrate the 50th Anniversary this year, "Brought out the intrinsic bond between conjugal love and the generation of life" (Amoris Laetitia, 68). Let's pray that this World Meeting of Families will bring again the joy of the family to all Europeans.

Above all these challenges, indeed, we cannot avoid speaking about the spiritual battle, which is very strong indeed, and which is part of a mysterious plan: this is why we decided to answer to the call of Pope Francis to his universal intention of prayer for the month of August, an intention which is very close to the daily work of our Federation: "That any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity".

Thank you for joining us in the prayer.
Antoine Renard

New Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 of the Council of Europe

Council of Europe Palais de lEurope

Brussels, 25 May 2018

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the decision-making body of the organisation, adopted its Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023, which is built upon the results of the Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017.  The new strategy, unlike the preceding one, gives attention to some family aspects. The Strategy sets up the objectives and priorities of the Council regarding gender equality for the period of 2018 to 2023, identifying the working methods, main partners and the measures necessary for further improvement of the situation within the organisation and in the Member States Especially the Strategy “addresses the implications of equality between women and men as regards dignity and rights, in public, private and family life. The social significance of maternity and paternity leave and the role of both parents in the upbringing of children and as carers of adult dependents must be taken into consideration to ensure that both women’s and men’s human rights are fully and equally respected. The equal sharing of unpaid household and care work should be promoted to break down gender stereotypes, ensure women’s and men’s work/life balance, and get closer to real gender equality”.

Read more: New Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 of the Council of Europe

Press Release | International Day Of The Family, the starting point of the future

Brussels, 15 May 2018

famille.jpgToday is the International Day of the Family, with a focus from the United Nations on “Families and inclusive societies”. The family is the first place of inclusion, where the value of every person can be welcomed in its uniqueness. An inclusive society starts wtih the family: the family is the vital cell of society and every society needs the family to be really inclusive.

Read more: Press Release | International Day Of The Family, the starting point of the future

Antoine Renard: Individual “rights” endanger 1948 Declaration of Human Rights



FAFCE president Antoine Renard was interviewed by the Austrian Catholic Press Agency: The human rights ideal born out of the catastrophe of World War II only aimed at fostering the rights of a person, in order that the state could not deny him/her their rights. These human rights took into account social ties. Today there is a certain “tiredness” among those who rightfully believe that to act socially is better than an individualistic approach.

Read more: Antoine Renard: Individual “rights” endanger 1948 Declaration of Human Rights

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