3. Assessing gender equality policies and their role in advancing environmental sustainability in Greece

Greek Law 4531/2018, which ratifies the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women (Istanbul Convention), and Law 4606/2019, on promoting substantive gender equality, constitute a sound legislative framework for advancing gender equality. Additional legislative measures introduced in 2021 provide a supporting framework for work-life balance. Policy initiatives to support women’s economic empowerment and labour market entry are also in the pipeline. As a result of these legal initiatives, Greece now ranks among 12 OECD countries at the top of the World Bank’s 2022 Women, Business and the Law Index, which collects data on laws and regulations that affect women’s economic opportunity (Figure 3.1).

Inequalities persist at the implementation level, however. This is apparent when looking at the OECD Gender Data Portal, which collects data on cross-country indicators in education, employment, entrepreneurship and governance, among others (Box 3.1). In 2021, Greece ranked last among EU member states on gender equality, with this score remaining relatively stable over the last decade (EIGE, 2021[3]). The OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), which measures discrimination against women in social institutions across 180 countries, confirms Greece’s low scores when compared with other OECD members over four dimensions: discrimination in the family, restricted physical integrity, restricted access to productive and financial resource, and restricted civil liberties (Figure 3.2) (OECD, 2019[4]).

Greece’s recently updated Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP), the National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2021-2025, is co-ordinated by the General Secretariat for Demography, Family Policy and Gender Equality in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which oversees its implementation. The GEAP is prepared in consultation with line ministries and the National Council for Gender Equality, a collective advisory body with representatives from national, regional and local government bodies, gender experts and civil society. It supports the realisation of the national legislative framework on gender equality in the following priority areas:

  • Combatting gender-based violence through implementation of the Istanbul Convention, eliminating violence in the workplace, and enforcing and upgrading support structures for victims;

  • Increasing women’s participation in public policy making, women’s representation in senior management in the public and private sectors, and educating women and girls to support them in reaching leadership positions;

  • Supporting women’s economic empowerment by increasing women’s labour participation, reconciling professional and family life, advancing women’s entrepreneurship, and supporting education and training for women and girls in research and development (R&D);

  • Mainstreaming gender in sectoral policies by incorporating an intersectional approach, minimising the risk of social exclusion for women, promoting gender equality in health, sports and culture (media), and enhancing statistical data collection and surveys to support analysis from a gender perspective.

Greece’s GEAP proposes indicators to measure the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, the International Labour Organization Convention on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, and other policies combatting gender-based violence; women’s participation in national and European decision-making bodies; women’s leadership in the public and private sectors; women’s labour participation by economic activity; work-life balance; gender pay gaps; gender-sensitive budgeting initiatives; and sectoral and academic gender equality action plans (MoL, 2021[7]).

The Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy (MoEE) contributes to the GEAP’s design and implementation. However, other than acknowledging the negative impact of environmental degradation on women’s empowerment and gender equality, and the role women play in advancing environmental sustainability, no concrete commitments or actions are set out by the MoEE. The MoEE follows national laws with regard to representation in public consultations, state-owned enterprises’ management boards, and energy communities (see section 2.2.2), and applies the EU’s non-discrimination principle (i.e. allowing all individuals an equal and fair chance to access opportunities available in society) in its policies and programmes, but much more could be done to include gender considerations in the design of environmental and climate policies, as described in Chapter 2. A consistently stated commitment to gender-sensitive and gender-responsible policies could help raise awareness within the public administration and promote the integration of a gender lens in all policies.

Beyond the MoEE’s compliance with the GEAP, other measures and initiatives could benefit from an environmental sustainability lens, which would enhance Greece’s achievement of sustainable development and transition to a low-carbon economy. As seen in Table 3.1, several policy actions included in the GEAP could directly and indirectly support women’s inclusion in economic activities overall, and in environment-related and green activities more specifically.

Women’s labour force participation in Greece remains low compared to the OECD average. Moreover, Greece is one of the European OECD members with the widest gender gap in labour force participation, with men at 75.5% and women at 59.3% (Figure 3.3).

In Greece and across OECD countries, health and education are the only female-dominated employment sectors. Women are relatively present in wholesale and retail trade, agriculture, and in accommodation and food service activities. Women’s presence is minimal in sectors such as mining and quarrying, utilities, construction, financial and insurance, and transport and logistics – sectors that mark high in GHG emissions, pollution and other forms of environmental damage (Figure 3.4).

Estimates predict that the majority of green jobs created in the EU will be in construction, manufacturing and engineering (Gil, Sánchez López and Murillo, 2013[9]). The green transition and technological advances are expected to affect business opportunities in these sectors as well as the nature of related jobs and skills profiles. As women’s presence in these sectors is already limited (in both OECD and EU countries) women may be further marginalised if gender-responsive policies to guarantee women’s inclusion in the green transition are not adopted.

International Labour Organization (ILO) scenarios indicate that high- and medium-skilled occupations in male-dominated sectors are more likely to be affected by the transition to a green economy (ILO, 2019[10]). Under energy sustainability and circular economy scenarios – whereby changes in the amount of energy produced and a shift to resource efficiency and circular modes of production are assumed – women’s uptake of new jobs is projected to be on a much smaller scale than men’s, though men are expected to be more severely affected by the shift to circular economy (Figure 3.5).

Based on limited gender-disaggregated data, the share of women in green occupations is low. In 2017 in France, for example, 82% of green occupations were held by men, compared to 52% for all occupations. Over-representation of men is particularly notable in sanitation and waste treatment technical professions. Women are more present in occupations that require high level qualifications, such as environmental engineering (Republique Française, 2020[11]).

Varying definitions of what constitutes environmental economic activity and green jobs (Box 3.2), which green skills may be required in the future, as well as a lack of available data, explain to a point countries’ different approaches to the issue of developing green occupations and green skills for the transition to a green economy. These differences are also influenced by factors such as geography, income, education and social conditions, and may lead to gender inequalities and hamper women’s economic empowerment.

Greece’s GEAP includes general policy actions to increase women’s labour force participation, but no measures specifically targeting environmental sectors or green jobs. Some of these measures are found in environment-related economic sectors1 such as agriculture, but with no explicit link to environmental sustainability in their design Table 3.1. Some OECD members integrate gender considerations – most frequently focusing on education and the promotion of women’s penetration in male-dominated industries – when developing green job incentives and policies in the framework of green growth. In some cases, countries apply tailored programmes to enhance women’s labour access to environmental sectors (Box 3.2).

To support women’s economic empowerment in environmental sectors and green jobs, Greece could prioritise targeted vocational training and education, and encourage reskilling and upskilling for women already in the job market and those entering or re-entering. Advanced skills training for green occupations would support both women’s labour participation and the transition to a green economy. Such initiatives could also be supported by specialised programmes for workers and workers with families that may require relocation, considering that new opportunities may no longer be available in the same geographical regions. Finally, guaranteeing overall gender balance in programmes may also increase women’s participation and eventually entrance into the job market. This could be achieved by specific targeting in programme design, accompanied by outreach and awareness-raising.

A targeted approach to environment-related economic sectors with high levels of female participation could also be applied. In the case of agriculture, where a national policy framework already exists for women-led farmers’ cooperatives (see section 2.3.3), promoting financial incentives (i.e. grants) to support women’s participation in farming, and to increase women’s knowledge and adoption of innovative farming techniques for sustainable agriculture should be considered. As seen in section 2.3.3, some EU member states have already introduced gender considerations in their programmes under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Engaging women in environmental innovation (eco-innovation) supports their representation in STEM-related fields and also could help drive the digital and green transitions. Greece’s GEAP sets specific targets for increasing women’s presence in innovation.

A Greek Innovation lab for Women (GIL4W) was recently established to provide support and promote research, innovation and entrepreneurship by and for women. GIL4W is a whole-of-government initiative in which 20 ministries, government agencies, research centres, and private sector stakeholders will participate. Priority will be given to strengthening women’s presence in STEM fields in education, as well as in artificial intelligence and biotechnology. The initiative will also examine financing opportunities for woman-led business innovation initiatives (MoL, 2022[19]). To target women’s further engagement in eco-innovation specifically, the GIL4W could consider introducing a “green” stream in its future programming, focusing on specific initiatives in environment-related male-dominated sectors.

Canada’s “Science and Technology Internship Programme – Green Jobs” provided wage subsidies to eligible employers to hire and mentor youth in the natural resources sector, including in forestry, mining, earth science, and clean technology. The programme promotes equity, diversity and inclusion by targeting a 50% participation rate from non-represented groups, such as women, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities. Results for 2017-2018 showed that 83% of the placements were in the clean technology sector, 53% of the employers were small and medium sized organisations, 63% of the youth participating also belonged in one of the employment equity groups, and 82% of the participants eventually found full-time employment (Government of Canada, n.d.[20]). Such programmes should also be considered by Greece, to support efforts in increasing women’s inclusion in green innovation and other STEM-related green jobs.

Identifying, assessing and creating green skills is essential in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Green skills are transversal; they cover the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. Green skills are needed by the workforce in all sectors and at all levels in order adapt products, services and processes to climate change and to environmental requirements and regulations (OECD/Cedefop, 2014[21]). International and national commitments to achieving net zero by 2050 are already prompting government and industry initiatives for identifying green skills needed today and in the future.

The OECD describes green skills as “specific skills to modify products, services or operations due to climate change adjustments, requirements or regulations (e.g. water purification and site remediation planning/engineering in mining, solar panels installation, wind turbines design, green management, carbon capture and storage techniques)”. They are considered converging skills, i.e. a combination of generic and high-knowledge-intensive skills (OECD, 2010[22]).

The United States’ O*NET Resource Center, which maintains and updates occupational taxonomy, categorises green occupations into three groupings: (i) green enhanced skills occupations, whereby occupations remain the same even though tasks, skills, knowledge, credentials etc. are altered because of the impact of green economy activities and technologies; (ii) green increased demand occupations, whereby tasks remain the same but new positions are created due to increases in employment demand in sectors affected by the green transition; and (iii) green new and emerging occupations, whereby new occupations requiring new skills are unfolding as demands change. Within these caterories there are 183 occupations under 12 green economy sectors, with half being classified as green increased demand occupations (Dierdorff et al., 2015[23]).

The European Commission recently produced its own taxonomy for green skills. European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) covers 381 skills, 185 knowledge concepts and 5 transversal skills that are expected to be needed in the green transition. ESCO categorises skills as either (i) skills/competence concepts or (ii) knowledge concepts indicating the skill type (EC, 2022[24]). From the ESCO classification it is apparent that the green skills most in demand will be those linked to information; communication, collaboration and creativity; as well as assisting and caring. Prevailing green knowledge concepts are, by far, engineering, manufacturing and construction (Figure 3.6). All five transversal skills fall under the life skills and competences category (EC, 2022[24]).

As future green occupations are expected to include both existing and new tasks, it is imperative to strengthen women’s training and knowledge around them. The United States National Bureau of Economic Research identifies four groups of tasks that are expected to be critical for green occupations: (i) engineering and technical skills, covering competences related to the design, construction and assessment of technology; (ii) science skills, linked to knowledge which can lead to innovation across the value chain; (iii) operation management skills, referring to skills necessary for introducing organisational change, life-cycle management, product development and sales; and (iv) monitoring skills, referring to non-technical skills necessary to comply with technical and legal standards (Vona et al., 2015[25]). The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also specifies that soft skills related to design thinking, creativity, adaptability, resilience, are also considered as important for new jobs, including green jobs (Vidican Auktor, 2020[26]). Any training and skills development should therefore focus on motivating women to take up existing training for existing occupations that will be in high demand going forward, as well as reskilling and upskilling to cover new needs arising in the job market.

In Greece, the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) has identified 19 green occupations and 31 occupations that may require green skills and could contribute to the transition towards a green economy (Table 3.3). These occupations require knowledge of energy production, management and saving; technical skills on environmental impact assessment; knowledge on environmental risk management; digital skills to help monitor processes’ efficiency, etc. (SEV, 2021[27]).

Skills policies are usually a horizontal endeavour covered by various government offices and organisations in OECD countries, including Greece, so inter-ministerial co-ordination and coherence is a necessity. Introducing a green skills strategy at the national level, covering skills development and training from early education and to vocational training, could create a basis for better matching skills and environmental policies. In addition, securing a gender-responsive approach to a green skills policy framework would support women’s economic empowerment and inclusion in growing green occupations.

Recently introduced legislation on upgrading workforce skills linked to the job market (Law 4921/2022) establishes a National Skills Council (NSC) tasked with preparing a skills strategy, following up on its implementation and coordinating actions between relevant bodies. The NSC is expected to prioritise developing a framework for digital skills. It will be supported by an experts’ committee that will collect statistical data and advise the NSC on developing tools to upgrade skills for the Greek job market (OG, 2022[28]). As the Greek government is prioritising a digital and green transition under its recovery plan (see below), the NSC should include a specific section on green skills in its skills strategy.

The ongoing COVID-19 and environmental crises have underscored the need to consider gender- and environment- responsive approaches to policy measures adopted by governments. Sustainable recovery measures that take inequalities into account could create opportunities for all and strengthen the system’s resilience to future shocks. The OECD Green Recovery Database, is a tool set to help identify the likely environmental implications of the stimulus packages introduced (OECD, 2021[29]). A gender component is included to help identify gender-relevant and gender-sensitive measures. Latest data from the OECD Green Recovery Database show that only 2.5% of the policy measures introduced are gender relevant. These gender-relevant green recovery measures overwhelmingly have positive impacts on the environment in sectors such as buildings, energy, and surface transport. The majority of the gender-relevant measures contribute to supporting women’s economic security, while also covering climate change mitigation and air pollution reduction as environmental targets (OECD, 2021[30]).

Greece is one of ten OECD countries with gender-sensitive green recovery policy measures. They are included in Greece’s recovery and resilience plan and will be financially supported by the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Facility. The three gender-sensitive policy measures, with a total budget of USD 557 million, focus on green skills and training in economic activities related to a circular economy. The programmes developed by the Greek Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) do not include specific quotas for women’s participation; however, women are the majority of participants in training programmes launched in recent years (Box 3.4).

Increasing women’s participation in decision-making and leadership in the environmental public sector can lead to an increased focus on gender-specific environmental impacts and more effective environmental action (OECD, 2021[31]). Research suggests that a higher presence of women in decision-making positions in environment-related public positions may bring about more ambitious national climate goals and policies (Strumskyte, Ramos Magaña and Bendig, 2022[32]). OECD member countries appear to consider female representation as a key component for environmental sustainability. In fact, 39% of all OECD environment ministers were women in 2021 (Strumskyte, Ramos Magaña and Bendig, 2022[32]).

Several OECD members apply measures to achieve gender balance in environmental decision-making in the public sector, with representation in key leadership positions and management boards of public entities being those mostly applied (Table 3.4).

Systematically pursuing women’s participation in leadership and decision-making environmental positions in public life, as well as guaranteeing gender balance in senior positions, would help to minimise gender gaps. Many OECD countries, including Greece, apply horizontal initiatives for the whole policy spectrum. Greece has introduced a one-third rule for all public administration bodies, whereby both sexes must represent at least one-third of membership, unless the composition is based on positions and not related tasks (Law 2839/2000). Therefore, gender balance is not always achieved.

Greece has introduced a 25% quota for women in management board membership of listed companies, as well as diversity principles based on non-discrimination. National bodies and committees apply gender quotas, but there is still no systematic pursue of women’s participation in leadership and decision-making positions in environment-related public bodies. This also applies to representation at international environmental negotiations, such as the UNFCCC COPs, where Greece is the OECD member with the widest variability in women’s participation, indicating that there has not been a consistent political decision on gender balance in its national delegation (Figure 3.7).

Greece’s GEAP attaches a high priority to combatting gender-based and domestic violence, especially since the country ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2018. Gender-based violence is expected to have increased during the COVID-19 lockdown period (MoL, 2021[7]). The GEAP covers prevention, protection and recovery measures on gender-based violence against women and girls (GBVAWG), but does not identify interlinkages between gender-based violence and sectoral policies such as urban planning and transportation.

Uncontrolled urbanisation around the world has led to limited housing access, densification and air quality degradation, compromising cities’ overall well-being and sustainability. Air and noise pollution and urban densification has been associated with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions (Kioumourtzoglou et al., 2017[33]). Studies in US cities have found a correlation between pollution and violent behaviours and crime, which have the potential to increase GBVAWG (Burkhardt et al., 2019[34]). Conversely, environmental quality, including access to green areas and physical activity, is increasingly recognised for its role in improving well-being, quality of life and mental health. Enhancing well-being through access to blue and green spaces could be part of a holistic policy approach to curtailing GBVAWG.

Designing gender-sensitive and gender-responsive policies requires, first and foremost, appropriate statistical data and indicators in order to identify gaps in policy making and monitor policy implementation.

The gender-environment nexus is not frequently observed in data collection efforts among OECD member countries. The gender-disaggregated and gender-relevant data that is collected is usually on labour participation, gender pay gaps, demographic data etc. More information in relation to environmental and environment-related sectors, climate change and environmental health would allow for a more granular approach when applying the gender-environment nexus.

Based on a 2019 OECD Survey, only 11 member countries confirmed collecting gender-disaggregated data related to environmental policies. Among these countries, the data/information is non-homogenous, ranging from use practices to exposure or workforce participation in environmental and environment-related economic activities, or green jobs. Greece’s survey response indicated that it does not collect any gender-disaggregated environmental data (OECD, 2019[35]). Yet, a much larger number of OECD members declared that they do consider gender aspects in environmental policy making, albeit not always in a systematic way. This is done, for example, when applying gender impact assessments or risk assessments that incorporate gender considerations in environmental policy making, or gender considerations in budgeting for environment (OECD, 2020[16]). The disconnect between gender-disaggregated data collected and the gender considerations integrated in environmental policy making shows there is still room for improvement to better mainstream gender in this policy area.

OECD countries such as Estonia, Finland, France, Iceland, Sweden and the United Kingdom collect gender-disaggregated information on attitudes, perceptions and behaviour related to environmental issues through sectoral surveys (e.g. on mobility, consumption patterns, recycling and waste management) (OECD, 2020[16]).

Greece does collect statistical data around the environment, but improvements could be made, especially in relation to waste statistics, circular economy, and monitoring employment trends and labour reallocation due to shrinking and growing activities (OECD, 2020[37]). Greece is one of the few EU member states that does not collect data on employment in the environmental goods and services (EGSS) sector.

Greece’s GEAP urges each ministry to integrate a gender dimension in their public policies; including setting annual targets, adopting indicators and producing gender impact assessment reports for upcoming legislation. This approach, if implemented by the public administration working on environment, climate change, energy and other environment-related policy fields, in collaboration with the Hellenic Statistical Authority and the GSDFPGE, would support gender mainstreaming and better environmental policy making. This may require additional capacity development, especially in cases where multiple factors, and not only gender, intersect and may lead to differentiated environmental impacts for policies by gender.

Some OECD members have introduced gender considerations in their national budget preparations through impact assessments, resource allocation and performance setting (OECD, 2018[38]). However, when asked whether gender considerations are taken into account when creating budgets related to environmental policy, only four OECD countries replied they always do (Figure 3.8).

In Belgium, each government department, agency and state-owned enterprise incorporates a gender analysis for projects financed by the national budget (OECD, 2019[39]). Canada has committed from 2018 to take into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians in a budgetary content (OECD, 2019[40]). In Spain, all ministries are requested to include a gender impact report analysing the gender impact of their spending programmes; a provision which also applies to the Ministry of Ecological Transition. The programmes are aligned with the objectives of Spain’s national Strategic Plan for Equal Opportunities, as well as thematic or sectoral equality plans, which allows to carry out an identification of planned actions, as well as a very specific diagnosis for each spending programme (OECD, 2019[41]).

Governments are also using environmentally responsive or “green budgeting” as a way to record and communicate policy progress on environmental policy objectives through budgeting processes. Integrating gender and green principles and criteria in budgeting processes in a coherent manner could leverage efforts towards a more sustainable and inclusive budgeting framework.

Only a handful of OECD countries measure gender impacts of state subsidies in environment-related sectors. For instance, Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry conducts an ex-ante gender impact evaluation of agricultural subsidies for the country’s Rural Development Programme. It then uses the assessment’s outcomes to crosscheck the subsidy’s compatibility with the national Equality Act. Sweden, on the other hand, conducts ex-post analysis on the impact and effect of an applicant’s gender on agricultural subsidies. In Spain, there is a mandatory provision for gender analysis on all subsidies, however, in most cases, no gender equality impacts are identified (OECD, 2020[16]).

Beyond state budgeting, integrating the gender-environment nexus into project programming and investment planning could support the shift to a more inclusive and green economy. Capital budget proposals for infrastructure investments should include gender and environment impact assessments to cover non-monetised impacts to standard cost-benefit analysis (OECD, forthcoming[42]).

Greece requires public consultation on all draft primary laws. There is no such obligation for secondary draft legislation, which supports the implementation of primary laws (OECD, 2021[43]). With regards to disseminating environmental information and including public consultation, Greece has a guaranteed legal framework and has also enhanced its effectiveness, using online tools. More active public participation would be welcome, and would require dedicating more resources to data collection, classification and management (OECD, 2020[37]).

Women’s organisations and other gender equality stakeholders could contribute to public consultations by emphasising the positive impacts of environmental policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment. To increase their participation, public administration could provide more detailed analysis on possible differentiated impacts of proposed legislation or other initiatives under public consultation from an early stage through drafting, going beyond what is usually included under regulatory impact assessments (OECD, 2021[44]). Greece includes gender-related questions in its Regulatory Impact Assessment for every primary draft law submitted to Parliament; however, lack of data or even a gender-blind approach may lead to leaving the information blank. A more active representation of civil society’s perspective on gender equality in public consultations would bring forward these issues (as the public consultations’ results are attached to the RIA submitted to Parliament).

In addition, gender balance in public bodies that actively provide input to line ministries could also bring to the forefront other issues and priorities. In the case of environmental and climate policy, women’s leadership in environmental public governance could translate into more ambitions climate goals and could influence environmental and climate policies, and negotiations (Strumskyte, Ramos Magaña and Bendig, 2022[32]). Guaranteeing women’s participation in bodies such as the National Observatory for Circular Economy, the National Observatory for Climate Change Adaptation and the relevant scientific and stakeholder committees could therefore lead to better policy outcomes on both gender equality and environmental sustainability.


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← 1. As noted in previous chapters, environmental sectors are economic sectors that generate environmental products, such as goods and services produced for environmental protection or resource management. The term environment-related economic sectors and activities is broader and covers other economic sectors and activities that may have an environmental impact.

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