Women, Welfare and Citizenship
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While family life is an area in which the Commission and some national governments have been reluctant to intervene, women’s rights have long been on the Union’s policy agenda, not, it is argued by some observers (for example by Buckley and Anderson, 1988, p. 10; Crawley, 1990, p. 7), from a desire to ensure equality between the sexes but as a means of promoting equal competition between member states. As in other areas of social policy, initially the motivation for Community intervention in gender issues was to avoid any one member state gaining a competitive edge, in this case by paying women at lower rates than men. The impetus for legislation is said to have come from France, which had enshrined the principle of equal rights in its postwar constitution of 1946 and wanted other member states to follow suit so that it would not be at a competitive disadvantage (Quintin, 1988, p. 71).
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