International Women’s Day 2021: COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge for gender equality

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Ahead of International Women’s Day, the Commission published its 2021 report on gender equality in the EU, that shows the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life, both in Europe and beyond, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of past years. At the same time, gender equality has never been so high up on the EU’s political agenda, and the Commission has made significant efforts to implement the Gender Equality Strategy, adopted one year ago. To better monitor and track progress in each of the 27 Member States, the Commission is launching today a Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal.

Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said today: “Women are at the frontline at the pandemic and they are more affected by it. We can’t afford sliding back; we must continue to push for fairness and equality. This is why EU has put women at the heart of recovery and obliged Member States to include gender equality in investments funded from Recovery and Resilience Facility.”

Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, added: “Despite the disproportionate impact on women’s live due the COVID-19 crisis, we need to use this situation as an opportunity. We are determined to strengthen our efforts, continue progressing and not allow a backlash on all the gender equality gains made”.

COVID-19 impact on women

Today’s report highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a major challenge for gender equality:

  • Member States recorded a surge in domestic violence: For example, the number of reports on domestic violence in France increased by 32% during the first week of the lockdown, in Lithuania by 20% in the first three weeks. Ireland saw a five-fold increase in domestic violence orders and Spanish authorities reported an 18% rise in calls during the first fortnight of confinement.
  • Women were at the frontline tackling the pandemic: 76% of healthcare and social-care workers, 86% of personal care workers in health services are women. With the pandemic, women in these sectors saw an unprecedented rise in workload, health risk and challenges to work-life balance.
  • Women in the labour market were hit hard by the pandemic: Women are overrepresented in sectors that are worst affected by the crisis (retail, hospitality, care and domestic work), because these jobs cannot be done remotely. Women also had more difficulties re-entering the labour market during the partial recovery last summer 2020 with employment rates rising by 1.4% for men but only by 0.8% for women between the second and the third quarter 2020.
  • Lockdowns have significant impact on unpaid care and work-life balance: Women spent, on average, 62 hours per week caring for children (compared to 36 hours for men) and 23 hours per week doing housework (15 hours for men).
  • A striking lack of women in COVID-19 decision-making bodies: A 2020 study found that men greatly outnumber women in the bodies created to respond to the pandemic. Of 115 national dedicated COVID-19 task forces in 87 countries, including 17 EU Member States, 85,2% were made up mainly of men, 11.4% comprised mainly women, and only 3.5% had gender parity. At the political level, only 30% of health ministers in the EU are women. The Commission’s task force for the COVID-19 crisis is led by President von der Leyen and includes five other Commissioners, three of whom are women.

Despite the challenges arising from the COVID-19 crisis, the Commission made significant efforts to move forward with the implementation of the Gender Equality Strategy over the past year. In order to track progress more effectively across the EU, the Commission launched today the Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal. A joint project developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the portal will allow to monitor individual EU Member States’ performance and compare that performance among the 27 Member States.

Background

The Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, adopted one year ago, is based on a vision for a Europe where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free from violence and stereotypes and have the opportunity to thrive and to lead. It sets out key actions for the 5-year period and commits to ensure that the Commission will include an equality perspective in all EU policy areas.

In the past year, the Commission has stepped up fight against gender-based violence with the first-ever EU victims’ rights strategy and announced a proposal to combat gender-based violence (public consultation is open here). The proposal for a Digital Services Act, adopted in December 2020, clarifies platforms’ responsibility and contributes to address online violence.

The Commission has taken action to encourage women’s participation in the labour market. The Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights puts gender equality at its core and establishes, amongst others, ambitious targets for women’s participation in the labour market and the provision of early childcare. On 4 March, the Commission put forward pay transparency measures to ensure equal pay for women and men for equal work.

In the Digital Education Action Plan and Updated Skills Agenda, the Commission announced a range of actions ensuring that girls and young women are equally present in ICT studies and digital skills development.

A gender equality perspective was also included into the next EU budget. Moreover, the new Recovery and Resilience Facility under the NextGenerationEU requires Member States to explain how their national recovery plans will contribute to promoting gender equality, thus helping to ensure a gender-responsive recovery in the EU.

In the past year, the Commission continued to support initiatives tackling gender stereotypes through its funding programmes, including the EU’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme. The Commission also strengthened gender equality outside of the EU by presenting, in November 2020, the new Gender Action Plan (GAP III) for 2021-2025, an ambitious agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment in EU external action.

Today, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) published a report on the Covid-19 pandemic and intimate partner violence against women in the EU. Full details can be found in their press release.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

The revenge of the fallen

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

This Syrian national has been trapped at Kuala Lumpur airport for 3 months

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

Learning lessons from across Europe – the hidden costs of COVID-19 on lung cancer

Eliminating gender based bias in medicine: the role of medical students

MEPs propose more transparent legislative drafting and use of allowances

Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

Parliament adopts deal to improve quality of tap water and reduce plastic litter

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

Iceland’s slowdown underlines the need to fix structural issues

Wirecard: MEPs call for new audit rules, protection for whistle-blowers and EU supervision

Why salaries could finally be on the way up

Estonia: use robust growth to improve income equality and well-being

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

EU prolongs economic sanctions on Russia by six months

New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness

We are witnessing a revolution in genomics – and it’s only just begun

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe

More funding needed to combat locust swarms ‘unprecedented in modern times’

Global warming: our responsibility

Beware the fragility of the global economy

Commission provides 20 cities with funding for innovative security, digital, environmental and inclusion projects

WHO and UNICEF in campaign to protect 1.6 million in Sudan from cholera

Falling inflation urges ECB to introduce growth measures today

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ clean-up project launches trial run: UN Environment

EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

‘Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Qualcomm looks to pick up Hamilton’s winning ways

EP and EU ministers agree on Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027

My experience living with depression and schizophrenia in Thailand

Building cybersecurity capacity through benchmarking: the Global Cybersecurity Index

3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

Philanthropy must face a reckoning on race in 2021

New UN finance panel to push Global Goals forward

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Commission reinforces tools to ensure Europe’s interests in international trade

EU mobilises emergency assistance for Croatia in the aftermath of devastating earthquake

Commission concludes that an Excessive Deficit Procedure is no longer warranted for Italy at this stage

Better ID card security to curb document fraud

Can we automate our way out of the savings crisis?

5 lessons for the future of universities

Things are bad and getting worse for South Africa. Or are they?

This is why AI has a gender problem

Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

The world must pull together to stem the urgent crisis in our ocean

Alice in Colombia

The recipe for creativity involves a lot of ideas, and a short break

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s