This article examines the impact of the European Employment Strategy (EES) on Greek and Portuguese employment policies (GEP and PEP, respectively) with regard to gender equality promotion during 1995–2009. It focuses on the three main EES goals of gender mainstreaming, reconciliation of work and family, and reducing gender pay gaps, drawing on 44 semi-structured interviews, official documents and the academic literature. The first part discusses the content of GEP and PEP before the introduction of the EES, arguing that gender equality promotion was absent in both countries. The second part examines the reforms promoting gender equality in GEP and PEP after the introduction of the EES in 1997, arguing that both countries implemented a substantial policy change which can be observed in two areas: first, expanding training and providing start-up subsidies for women; and, second, expanding care facilities to promote the reconciliation of work and family life. In the third part it is argued that these reforms were linked to the EES and that the Europeanization of GEP occurred through the European Social Fund's conditionality, whereas in the case of PEP, Europeanization occurred through the external empowerment of domestic policy entrepreneurs who used the EES to promote their pro-gender equality agenda. Overall, in both countries the EU caused a considerable but not transformative change in their welfare states, with the EES constituting the key driver of pro-gender equality reforms in employment policy.
- Gender equality
- Gender mainstreaming