The Socialists and Democrats sounded the alarm today. Ten months on from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have more and more evidence showing that lockdowns have led to a spike in violence against women, a widening of the digital gender gap and the gender divide in unpaid care work, and potentially long-term impacts on women’s work and incomes. However, there has not been enough action at EU level on a gender-sensitive response to this crisis and the promised legislative proposal on pay transparency – a necessary first step to finally ending the persistent gender pay gap – was unfortunately postponed again.
In a debate and votes on three gender-equality-related resolutions, the S&Ds call for a series of concrete measures to better protect women’s rights. We urgently need the swift revival and adoption of the Women on boards directive, the ratification of the Istanbul convention to eliminate violence against women and legislative measures on binding pay transparency. The EU Gender equality strategy, proposed by the Commission in March last year, must be vigorously implemented as soon as possible.
S&D spokesperson on women’s rights and gender equality and EP rapporteur on the EU Strategy for gender equality Maria Noichl MEP said:
"Today is a good day for women. Donald Trump is finally out of the White House, Kamala Harris has become the first female vice-president of the US and the European Parliament is putting gender equality back on the agenda in Europe. Today we say yes to a gender-equal society and no to violence against women and girls in all its forms.
“If nothing changes in the EU, gender equality will only be achieved in over 65 years time. The gender-equality strategy and its proposed actions are a stepping stone to a faster route to equality between men and women. It also strengthens our position against the backlash on women's rights that we can observe in several member states like Poland and Hungary. The rule of law in Europe can only exist with gender equality – without it democracy is lagging behind."
S&D vice-president and shadow rapporteur on the gender perspective in the Covid-19 crisis and post-crisis period Heléne Fritzon MEP added:
“Since the beginning of this pandemic the S&Ds have called for a proactive, gender-sensitive response. Domestic and gender-based violence have increased, sexual and reproductive health and rights have been attacked, and experience from previous crises suggests that women's financial situations will be disproportionally impacted in the long term. All these factors will significantly affect our children too.
“We cannot afford to let this pandemic become a gender-equality crisis. Now we are once again calling on the Commission and the member states to put gender equality and women’s rights at the heart of the Covid recovery and resilience plans. If we want to repair the economic and social damage done by this crisis, it is crucial we increase women’s participation in the labour market and strengthen the connection between climate-change policies, digital policies and gender equality.
To build a strong and green EU after the pandemic, gender equality is one of our most important tools.”
S&D shadow rapporteur on the digital gender gap and women’s participation in the digital economy Maria Manuel Leitão Marques MEP added:
“The under-participation of women in the tech sector is reflected in the statistics. Only 17% of the 1.3 million people studying information and communication technologies in the EU are women. It is obvious we must change this – to boost the economy and to allow women to fully participate in society.
“To succeed, we must start by fighting gender stereotypes in schools already and then promote digital skills and women’s participation in the digital economy in lifelong learning. We call on the Commission to create mentoring schemes with female role models in ICT at all levels of education and to develop training programmes for up-skilling and re-skilling specifically aimed at women.”