Research Handbook on European Social Security Law
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Research Handbook on European Social Security Law

Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk

This Handbook encompasses four dimensions of European social security law: social security as a human right, standard setting in social security, the protection of mobile persons and migrants and the global context of European social security law. It pays attention to both EU law and to various instruments of the Council of Europe. In 25 chapters prominent experts analyse contemporary debates, discuss new challenges and point out further lines of research. Through this exploration, the Handbook provides a source of inspiration for the development of this special field of law.
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Chapter 11: Women and social security

Mies Westerveld


The central question for this chapter is whether the protection schemes of social security take sufficient account of (the position of) women. This question is approached historically, dividing the period of EEC/EU legislation and social policy making into two broad periods: the hard law period (1975–1990) when a small number of member states set themselves the task of cleansing their social security schemes of direct and indirect discrimination; and the period of gender mainstreaming and equal opportunity policies when the EU had become considerably larger and faith in hard law regulation had weakened. For the analysis the welfare state typology of Esping-Andersen is used, without neglecting the criticism this model provoked from feminist academics. A chapter in itself are the Central and Eastern European Countries who became member states after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In some of them the debate about what is best for women took an unexpected turn. Both elements – the critique of feminists of the welfare state typology of Esping-Andersen, and the approach of some CEECs of gender and social protection in the post-Communist period – illustrate both the complexity of the theme and the fact that it is not really possible to answer the central question unambiguously.

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