This book developed out of a long-standing interest in the potential and actual impact of the European Community (EC) on women.1 EC policies to protect women at work, especially in the Single European Market, have responded to a concern that women start from an unequal position, compared to men, in their access to well-paid, secure employment. The advent of the Single European Market in 1992 has heightened these concerns and increasingly we are witnessing a ‘European’ rather than a ‘national’ approach to policy-making. However, the development of EC policy to protect and enhance women’s roles in the labour market has not been prompted solely by the single market. Policies have developed over several decades as growing pressure from women and the greater visibility of women in the public realms of work and politics have insisted that women should no longer be left on the sidelines of work and society. The demands, pressure and lobbying of the European women’s movement have played a vital, if often publicly unrecognised, role to achieve a better deal for women.
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