Call for Tenders

Report: Women’s labour market participation in the EU. Obstacles and policy levers

Aug 27th, 2020

Notwithstanding substantial differences between countries, women’s labour force participation in the European Union is persistently lower than that of men. EU-wide there is a gender employment gap of 11% to the disadvantage of women. Many more women than men belong to the inactive labour force while wanting to work. A third of those women currently inactive reference child care responsibilities for their limited employment status. Financial disincentives persist that keep women who would like to work inactive, including tax disadvantages for second earners and out-of-pocket costs for care for dependents. Similarly, a third of employed women work part-time, almost four times the percentage of men, with care responsibilities again being the prime reason. If female employment rises, this tends to be more pronounced in precarious jobs.

Both the quality of women’s paid employment and the gendered division of unpaid (care) work continue to remain outside the focus of the EU’s employment strategy, despite the union’s commitment to fulfilling the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), including Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8); its strategy for gender equality; or the emphasis on gender equality in the European Pillar of Social Rights, to name but a few core policies and initiatives. While specifics in social security, taxation and benefits systems are known to be detrimental factors keeping women in low-pay, part-time jobs or out of employment altogether, the implementation of minimal standards, not to mention a joint policy, remain a distant goal.

The Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Brussels is calling for tenders to write a report on the labour market participation of women in the European Union, the gendered effects of social security, taxation, and benefits systems, persisting obstacles of tackling these inequalities at the European level and policy levers to evoke change.

Specifically, the report should address these questions:

  1. What is the current situation of women on the labour market in the EU? How has this situation changed over past decades?
  2. What are the main factors/disincentives keeping women out of the labour market or limiting their participation? How do these factors intersect? How do they interact with other characteristics of respective social security systems?
  3. What policies have been developed at national or European level to increase both the quantity and quality of female labour market participation? Which have been more effective than others and why, in what contexts?
  4. Which obstacles remain? Has the situation become worse in certain contexts or owing to contradicting policies?
  5. How has the Corona pandemic impacted women’s labour market participation? Where have women been more/less affected by the pandemic? Why? What role do respective characteristics of social systems play?
  6. Which policy levers would be most promising to evoke positive and durable change across EU member states?


  1. The report should be based on available statistics at European, national and, where applicable, sub-national level from across the European Union.
  2. The data presented must be visualised in graphs, tables, and charts and rigorously documented/referenced.
  3. Data permitting, adopt an intersectional approach.
  4. Total word count approx. 10,000 words (excluding bibliography).
  5. Report to be written in English.
  6. Availability for presenting results of the report highly desirable, subject to negotiation.
  7. Availability for producing a short video interview on results of the report for publication on the RLS Brussels website desirable, subject to negotiation.


  • Submission of abstract by 23rd September 2020, 10:00 hours CET.
  • Notification by 25th September 2020.
  • Submission of full draft report for comment by 23rd November 2020.
  • Final changes and editing by mid-December 2020. This deadline is non-negotiable, as funding has to be used by end of the year.
  • Language editing in January 2021.
  • Publication in early 2021.
  • Presentation of report and video production in spring 2021, if applicable.
  • Invoice to Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung after completion of agreed services (by mid-December 2020).

What we offer

  • 6,000 EUR, VAT excluded;
  • Publication of report online and as a hard copy, which will be available free of charge.

Applicants are advised that renewal of this contract is not envisaged.

Application process

Please send your proposal of 750-1,000 words outlining focus/aspects covered and structure of report, specifying the methodology applied and data to be used, as well as a comprehensive CV including a list of publications by 23rd September 2020, 10:00 hours CET to Ada Regelmann at