New Eurobarometer survey highlights severe impact of COVID-19 pandemic on women

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


Key demands of women for MEPs are tackling human trafficking and sexual exploitation, fighting mental and physical violence against women and addressing the gender pay gap.

For International Women’s Day on 8 March, the European Parliament commissioned a dedicated survey among European women assessing the impact of the pandemic on various aspects of women’s lives.

The survey results show the significant impact of the pandemic at both personal and professional levels, including a severe increase in the levels of violence against women.

Violence

Three out of four women (77%) in the EU think that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in physical and emotional violence against women. In all but two countries (Finland and Hungary) this result is above 50%, with results reaching 93% in Greece and 90% in Portugal.

Women clearly identify several key measures to deal with the issue of violence against women: make it easier to report violence against women, including to the police (58%), increase the options for women to seek help, for example through telephone hotlines (40%), increase awareness and training of the police and judiciary on the subject (40%), and increase women’s financial independence (38%).

Economic and financial consequences

38% of all respondents said the pandemic had a negative impact on their personal income. Results range from 60% in Greece to 19% in Denmark. The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a negative impact on work-life balance according to 44% of the women interviewed. This has been the case for more than half of women in Cyprus (68%), Greece (59%), Malta (58%), Luxembourg (56%), Italy (52%), Portugal (52%) and Hungary (51%).

Last but not least, 21% of women are considering or have decided to permanently reduce the amount of time they allocate to paid work.

Mental health

Since the start of the pandemic, women have been most likely to feel worried about missing friends and family (44%), anxious and stressed (37%) and generally concerned about their future (33%).

There is a consistent view among women that the measures enacted to stop the spread of the pandemic have had a major impact on their own mental health.

Specific societal categories have been more affected than others, depending on the type of measure: about half of those with children under the age of 15 say school and childcare closures had a major impact on their mental health.

What can women expect from the European Parliament?

Women in the EU believe that the European Parliament should prioritise: trafficking and sexual exploitation for women and children (47%), mental and physical violence against women (47%), the pay gap between women and men and its impact on career development (41%), the greater difficulties for women in reconciling their private and working lives (work-life balance) (31%), and protection of women and girls belonging to vulnerable groups (30%).

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola, welcoming the results of the survey, said: “Women have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been hit mentally and financially. This must stop. The European Parliament is acting to change this.”

Chair of Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee Robert Biedroń said: “The results of the Eurobarometer survey confirm what we already know: the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women and girls in myriads of ways. From increased gender-based violence, to an increased burden of care, from the economic impact on sectors disproportionately populated by women, to insecurity of work contracts. But crises can also present opportunities: a chance to rebuild better. The recovery should therefore put women at the heart of the solutions, which we will also advance through our work.”

Background

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022, the European Parliament commissioned a dedicated survey among European women only, to better gauge the views of women across generations, countries, and different socio-demographic characteristics in times of COVID-19.

This Flash Eurobarometer survey was carried out by IPSOS between 25/1 and 3/2/2022 in all 27 EU Member States and covered 26741 interviews in total.

The EU results are weighted according to the size of the population in each country.

Data and the full report can be found here.

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