COFACE Families Europe situates its advocacy within a wider global context.
We build on the European Union and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
COFACE has clearly set out the role of civil society organisations in achieving the SDGs.
We build actions at multiple levels: European, transnational, national, global.
We strive to contribute to positive outcomes for families while acknowledging the limitations of our planet, clustering COFACE actions to support the achievement of 8 main goals.
Work-life balance & family-friendly workplaces
Our goal is to allow families to choose how to reconcile work and family life, allowing more men to care and more women to work, decreasing the gender care gap, and therefore secure economic independence.
COFACE Families Europe has been intensively promoting and advocating for specific EU measures on Work-Life Balance for years and has campaigned over the last decade to EU Institutions underlying the challenges that families and carers face in reconciling their professional and private life.
The agreement on the EU Work-Life Balance Directive on 24th January 2019 was a road full of hurdles, and we launched the #iwantworklifebalance campaign in 2017 to unblock the European legislative process (as was the case with a European maternity leave legislation revision which was blocked in Council for 8 years).
Last, but not least, COFACE created and led a coalition of some 15 European civil society networks and organisations, the Work-Life Balance Alliance, to advocate for the adoption of the EU Work-life balance Directive and to monitor the whole process through several Open Letters and Joint Statements.
The battle for gender equality and work-life balance for all families is far from over, and you can count on COFACE Families Europe to keep pushing for non-legislative and legislative under the European Pillar of Social Rights.
Gender equal and caring economy
Gender equality as cornerstone for the reconciliation of family and professional life.
We have been supporting the notion of Work-life balance for all, based on measures that tackle the stereotypical vision of “traditional” and old-fashioned distributions of roles, where women are caregivers and men are the breadwinners. These elements work as disincentives for men’s involvement in family and care responsibilities.
As the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025 highlights, “both parents need to feel responsible and entitled when it comes to family care”. Unfortunately, the reality is different, as care is still perceived as a women’s responsibility in the family, and this stereotype still prevails even when women join the labour market.
COFACE Families Europe believes equality between women and men, and sharing of family care responsibilities (“co-responsibility”) is a cornerstone for the reconciliation of family and professional life. Decreasing the gender care gap is a key priority and goal for our network, and a precondition to close the gender pay gap and gender pension gap. This will, this must, lead to more gender equality in family care, like emperor penguins do naturally, and hence also gender equality in the labour market.
Independent living for all, family carers and persons with disabilities
Disability rights is a key area of work of COFACE. Our goal is to ensure families get adequate support which includes access to resources, services and time (R-S-T). In the field of disability this means income support to families with disabled members, high quality services, with a special attention to inclusive early education and care and community-based services, social protection and flexible working arrangements for family carers.
The European Union has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and committed thus to its implementation in the areas of European competence. We monitor closely the ongoing and future actions under the 2021-2030 European Union Strategy for rights of persons with disabilities, and also jointly monitor the use of EU funds for independent living as founding member of the European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care.
Persons with disabilities, their families and their carers were hugely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, making it ever more pressing to push for their full inclusion through the implementation of the S.H.I.F.T. guide developed by the COFACE Disability Platform, highlighting 5 objectives,15 tools and 45 actions in the areas of Support, Human rights, Independence, Families and society Transition (S.H.I.F.T.).
Inclusive education and societies
Inclusive and democratic societies require a strongly inclusive education system to ensure all children get a fair start in life, and are not pushed into segregated settings which exclude them from society at the youngest age.
This means from the earliest age with inclusive Early Childhood Education and Care, as set out in our New EU Deal for Childcare and our Recommendations on Inclusive Education for children with disabilities linked to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
COFACE members organise support, ensure knowledge and protection of rights, and break down barriers to inclusion. Driven by community solidarity and anti-discrimination, they offer professional training and support services needed to ensure that all children and families have equal opportunity to lead safe and fruitful lives, and advocate for inclusive education and societies. These actions of civil society and family organisations help address some of the gaps between family, education and migration policy, as highlighted in the COFACE position paper Building Inclusive Societies – First steps to bridging the gaps between family, education and migration policies.
Digital Citizenship & harnessing the potential of technology
COFACE Families Europe tackles the challenges and opportunities raised by digitalisation through a variety of actions in different policy fields: work-life balance and telework, employment, data protection, online safety and assistive technology.
Digitalisation, or more broadly, the tremendous progress of technology over the last 20 years (especially thanks to the Internet), has already brought about deep transformations in our society; a trend which is bound to continue in the future as a number of relatively “new” developments are bound to have a deep impact on families. We monitor closely the EU Better Internet for Kids Strategy, which is currently under review.
The global shift online of working, schooling, socializing due to the pandemic has made it even more important for COFACE to implement its 13 Digitalisation principles ensuring that families can be empowered to harness the full potential of technology, to interact online in all safety and privacy through a mix of regulatory frameworks, self-regulation by the relevant ICT industries, and education with the support of COFACE members (as highlighted in the COFACE Digital Families Map).
Research on the impact of the constantly evolving digital transformations on children and families is needed to ensure adequate policies and legislation can keep up with digital innovations, and the DigiGen Horizon2020 consortium helps to fill such research gaps.
Child rights and family well-being
The interrelated well-being of children and their families is demonstrated clearly in the 2030 Child Compass to shape a healthy society, environment, and economy fit for children. This two-generation/multi-generation approach guides COFACE’s actions and inputs for different EU frameworks such as the EU Child Guarantee and EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child.
The Compass situates the child and their family at the core of a system with 5 priority and interlinked spheres of influence on individual child and family health and well-being: Education, Community, Digital Technology, Economy, and Environment.
This means addressing early childhood from different angles, including(cyber-)bullying prevention, stereotypes in early childhood, providing a healthy start in life through good nutrition, also building bridges with key industries which have a huge impact on children and their families (such as advertising, food, ICT).
We are convinced that children will thrive if their family thrives and if the whole society cares enough to provide for them. This means that policies focusing on children’s well-being must support families and their inherent capabilities.
Financial inclusion & an economy that serves society and the planet
Millions of families across the EU are in a situation of over indebtedness, millions more do not have access to a basic bank account, and another few million do not have access to basic loans such as mortgage credit in order to buy a home where they can thrive as a family.
COFACE-Families Europe advocates for more responsible lending via for example thorough credit worthiness checks, credit guidance to ensure that credit is allocated for productive activities (funding the real economy), and access to better information and independent quality financial guidance for families.
COFACE-Families Europe also defends the right to access a basic bank account for all EU citizens without any form of discrimination. We underline the necessity for all families to have access to certain financial products such as mortgage credit, pensions and saving products to ensure that they can make long-term life investments which are essential for their family life. When families fall into over-indebtedness, it is essential that all Member States provide the right to debt settlement and a fresh start to allow for families to quickly return to the labour market and prevent a negative spiral which ends up costing society.
Our key recommendations to boost the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights will help assess the actions taken to ensure a rebalancing of economic and social priorities. The reports of the seminars on “Economics at the service of society” and “Unlocking new economic thinking for a sustainable future” have brought COFACE reflections beyond social policy and into economic and environmental policy.
An economic and financial system that works for both growth and well-being of families remains an essential challenge, through targeted measures to promote financial inclusion and prevent over-indebtedness (as highlighted in the COFACE Financial Inclusion Compendium and Inclusive financial models), but also through wider economic reflections for a more sustainable future. Our vision is outlined in our 14 Economic principles for an Economy which Cares.
Social Inclusion & poverty prevention
The three European Union Institutions proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017 – a kind of compass to guide future EU social and economic policy and legislative actions. It aims to deliver new and more effective rights for citizens. It consists of 20 key principles, structured around three categories: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; and social protection and inclusion.
Job losses linked to the economic crises of 2008 and 2020 mean that an increasing number of families are threatened by social exclusion and poverty, making it essential to build a preventative safety net based on access to resources, services and time arrangements. There is a need more than ever to push for universal policies which effectively support families and children in vulnerable situations (single parent families, large families, migrant families, rainbow families, blended families, families with disabilities) in ways which prevent differentiation and social stigma, but measures the intensity of care and support needed.
COFACE continuously advocates for meaningful implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights through legislative and non-legislative measures to ensure it can be useful to tackle challenges at local level and how it links to other on-going legislative and policy initiatives. Following the successful #Iwantworklifebalance campaign in support of the EU work-life balance directive (between 2017 and 2019), the EU adopted minimum standards on adequately paternity leave, parental leave, carers leave and flexible work arrangements.
In September 2019, to welcome the new European Parliament, we launched our New Deal for Families of Today, which is our key contribution to drive the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan through concrete objectives to be reached by 2024. This New Deal reflects the clear needs and challenges of families of today. We are ready to work in partnership with the European Union Institutions to drive implementation of social rights for families of today.