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Frontpage News 2012 Better work-life balance


Encouraging a better work-life balance

  • The Women’s Institute in Spain and the Portuguese Association of Numerous Families seek to improve the work-life balance for men and women in Spain and Portugal.

    Similar to most European countries, Portugal and Spain experience reduced population growth and a decrease in birth rate. A 2010 estimate, shows that Portuguese women have an average of 1.5 children, which is just below the EU average of 1.51. At the same time, the fertility rate in Spain is estimated to decrease to 1.32 in 2010.

    A more equal division

    In recent years, Spain has boasted one of the world’s largest increases in women’s participation in the labour market, organisational life and politics. Nevertheless, according to the Women’s Institute in Madrid (Instituto de la Mujer), the simultaneous decline in birth rate indicates the difficulties many women face in combining family life with a career. The institute has now been awarded a €1.2 million grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to finance a project that seeks to encourage a more equal division of both professional and domestic tasks between men and women.

    The project is implemented in close collaboration with the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS). Drawing on Norway’s experiences with a childcare reform, maternal and paternal leave and a system of financial benefits for families with children, the project partners will provide support to local and regional authorities in Spain in developing work-life conciliation plans. The organisations also aim to elaborate a “Good Practices Guide” on work-life balance in both Spanish and Norwegian local governments – based on reflection, debate and exchanges of positive experiences between the 2 countries.

    Rapid development

    Senior Advisor Liss Schanke of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities stresses that Norway also has much to learn from Spain. “No other European country has had such a rapid development within the field of gender equality as Spain. Even during the present financial crisis gender equality has been one of the Spanish government’s key priorities - at the national level as well as during the Spanish EU presidency. This is an attitude that Norway, as well as most other countries, can learn from”, Schanke says. 10 Spanish municipalities have been selected to take part in the project together with the 6 Norwegian municipalities.

    Read more about the project in Spania here.

    The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities is also involved in a similar project in Portugal. The Norwegian-Portuguese project sets out to assess the level of awareness and the use of conciliation measures between work and family life in Portugal. The analysis will serve as a platform when deciding necessary step to ensure a better work-life balance. The project is coordinated by the Institute of Family Science at the Catholic University in Lisbon and carried out by the Portuguese Association for Large Families.

    Photo credit: The Institute of Family Science, Portugal

  • Country:


    Project title:

    Conciliation - Twinning Portuguese and Norwegian Institutions for Conciliation Between Work and Family Life

    Case number:


    Priority sector:

    Human resource development


    € 1.9 million (both projects)



    Type & project assistance:

    Individual Project

    Project promoter:

    The Womens Institute in Spain and the Portuguese Association of Numerous Families

    Project duration:

    32 months

    Project cost:

    € 862,235

    Grant rate:


    Grant from:

    EEA Grants

    Grant agreement date:

    28 October 2008

    The purpose of the Project is to establish good practices for more equal distribution of time between women and men, with the overall objective to improve balance and conciliation of private, family and professional life for men and women. Reference is made to the application, dated 15 June 2007 and to any subsequent correspondence with the Focal Point.

    The completed Project shall include the following activities and results:

    - Comparative study of all relevant legislation;

    - Development for actions within each of the sub-activities (capacity building, training and information strategies);

    - Development of a training plan;

    - Publicity measures including: development of communication strategy, promotional materials and development of a web portal; and

    - Conferences and seminars.

    The Project Promoter is the Associação Portuguesa das Famílias Numerosas - APFN (The Portuguese association of large families).

    Subject to national law, the Project shall be implemented in partnership with Kommunenes Sentralforbund (KS), Norway, the Catholique University of Lisbon - Institute of Family Science, the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities, the Ministry of Labour and Social Solidarity - Strategic Planning Cabinet, the Municipality of Leiria and the Municipality of Faro .

    The Focal Point shall ensure that the Municipality of Leiria provides at least 7.5 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost, and that the Municipality of Faro provides at least 7.5 percent of the estimated eligible Project cost.