Lately, gender equality has become an important topic on the Romanian political scene. President Iohannis and Prime Minister Dăncilă have repeatedly spoken about this issue, but each time the discussion has been approached from the point of view of the need to adopt equality as an external pressure. Gender equality is viewed as a Western component that we lack, one that needs to be implemented through quotas or through integrative approaches. In all these discussions, however, an essential component of gender equality is neglected: the economic one.
In Romania, gender discrimination is found in all sectors of society, from health, where access to specific health services, such as family planning, is reduced for thousands of women, to access to the labor market or to senior management positions. Women are under-represented on the boards of listed companies, accounting for only 10% of total membership, compared to an EU average of 24%. The situation is not better in the public sector either, in Parliament women represent less than 20% of the total number of elected officials. But on the labor market this discrimination can be transposed directly into economic losses.
Gender-based discrimination on the employment rate generates losses equivalent to 1.6% of GDP in Romania. These behave as an opportunity cost materialized by not collecting taxes related to the non-transfer of more women to the workforce. Every woman who can not get access to the labor market is money lost directly by the Romanian state. Romania is also a specific case in Europe if we look at this situation from the perspective of young people not employed in the workforce. Among those listed as NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training), the number of women is seven times higher than that of men. However, we are relatively good at this point, other states in Europe, such as Italy, have losses of up to 6% of GDP from labor market disparities.