Equality for work and life

The EQW&L project aims to elaborate and test a set of strategies, a new model of intervention and a toolkit to facilitate the access to labour market of unemployed persons – women but not only women – who are hindered from getting and keeping a job by their work-life balance needs. Furthermore, the project aims at supporting SMEs – and namely those in the social economy – in embracing reconciliation friendly working environments.

Talking with Anna Chiara Giorio

Listen to the podcast realized for Worklife Hub by Coordinator Anna Chiara Giorio (ANPAL) in which she tell us more about the EQW&L  project, funded by the European Commission.

Talking with Hilde Olsen

Listen to the podcast realized for Worklife Hub by Hilde Olsen, who is coordinating the work of the European Network of Public Employment Services in the European Commission.

Talking with Giorgio Luigi Risso

Listen to the podcast realized for Worklife Hub by Giorgio Luigi Risso, who is responsible for the development and management of the labour policy initiatives of the Piedmont Region.


The focus of the project is contemporaneously on three elements:


On the employment services system proposing and testing strategies the Italian PES network can use to support persons entering or re-entering the labour market which are particularly vulnerable due to their work-life balance needs


on the individuals – all those in their active working life cycle, unemployed or in the process of re-entering the job market – both women and men having caring responsibilities and/or other reconciliation needs, but also young people trying to enter the job market and asking to reconcile working needs with social and personal life.


on companies – and namely on SMEs and social enterprises, which offer relevant employment opportunities for women, but face more difficulties than bigger companies in implementing work life balance policies. EQW&L will specifically address gender stereotypes and unconscious gender bias and define, thanks to the transnational support of REFORM and IWEO (who coordinates in Spain a network involving over 120 companies implementing work-life balance strategies) a business case for SMEs investing in gender-balanced work-life balance policies.


For a long time, increasing women’s participation in the labour market has been an ambitious and strategic goal both at European and national level. 

Labour market statistics show that in 2015, the EU28 employment rate for men (aged 20-64 years) was 75%, while it reached only 63.5% for women. In April 2017 the European Commission proposed the Social Pillar that sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems. In the framework of the Social Pillar, the Work-life Balance package aims at extending existing rights for working parents and carers so to have a better distribution of caring responsibilities within families.

Italy is among the most affected countries in EU when it comes to gender employment gap: in January 2018, the male employment rate stood at 67% while the female rate at 49.3%, registering a gender employment gap rate of 17.7% (while at European level the gap is 11.5%). 

Italy, January 2019
Male employment rate 67%
Female employment rate 49.3%

Phases of the project

phase 1

the first phase will be devoted to: project start & set-up, comprehensive toolkit and model of intervention’s refinement; preparation of information/training tools for public and private employment services’ staff and creation of a local network of SMEs among which to raise awareness on work life balance. 

phase 2

Phase 2 will be devoted to testing EQW&L’s model of intervention and toolkit with around 190 unemployed persons in 4 Italian Regions. In this phase awareness raising activities among SMEs on work life balance will be also conducted and monitored. 

phase 3

During the following months (phase 3), data collected during the experimentation will be analysed and interpreted to address our key research questions on the effects of our experimentation and to identify causal explanations for different effects. 

phase 4

Phase 4 regards monitoring and evaluation activities.

phase 5

The up-scaling strategy process and follow up activities will be aimed at disseminating the action to both immediate stakeholders and a wider audience in the areas involved in the project (phase 5). 

phase 6

In conclusion, the sixth phase covers project management and coordination’ activities that will be carried out throughout the entire action. Overall, the project aims to maximize opportunities for exchange and sharing of transnational experiences.