Those receiving benefits (in the form of the so-called “minimum income”) are more often men than women, states the SPP Intégration sociale (SPP IS – Belgium’s federal public service for social integration). The organisation notes that the disparity has decreased over the last ten years, but that it remains significant, especially within small districts and where recipients also have a family.
Amongst those receiving the minimum income, 46.3% were men and 53.7% were women. The latter are over-represented compared to their presence across the Belgian population.
The gap between men and women varies according to where they live. In small districts, it rises to 10.8% whilst in large urban areas, it is only 2.2%. In 2005, the difference respectively reached 20.2% and 6.8%.
Moreover, 43.9% of women receiving the minimum income have a family. Men tend particularly to be single (50.3%). Julien Van Geertsom, the Chairman of SPP IS, explains, “…in the cases we deal with involving children, women are often single parent mothers (…). Finding a job or pursuing training courses involves its being able to dovetail in with childcare or the children’s education. The absence of day nurseries, out-of-school hours childcare or of vast social networks (…) makes finding a job more complicated.”
Women remain within the CPAS (the Public Centre for Social Welfare) system for longer (13.7 months on average) than men (for whom the average is 11.4 months). The largest gap is between men (6.3 months) and women with dependent care responsibilities (11.1 months). “Hence the importance of supporting self-reliance projects for single mothers who depend upon CPAS”, concludes the SPP IS.