EWL News

Women and girls must not pay the price for the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath

“Women’s full, effective participation in public and political life, decision-making and leadership, including in the design and implementation of the EU’s response to this crisis, is crucial to eliminating male violence against women and girls and to ensure all their lived experiences and specific challenges are taken into account.”, stressed Gwendoline Lefebvre, President of the European Women’s Lobby.

On International Women’s Day 2021, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the largest umbrella of women’s civil society in Europe, representing over 2000 organisations, is sounding the alarm about the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s lives. With cases of violence against women and girls rising up to 30% in some countries, poverty and threats to women and girls’ economic independence, the past year has shown how hard-won progress on women’s rights can easily be rolled back. We must build a future path out of the pandemic which sees leaders redouble their efforts to achieve equality between women and men throughout the EU and beyond.

2020 saw some historic landmarks : the European Commission - headed by a woman for the first time in its history - launched a Gender Equality Strategy to guide the EU’s action towards equality between women and men. The EU budget 2021-2027 saw a boost of funds to the programmes for women and girls and integrated gender mainstreaming as an overarching priority. In parallel, the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by the UN, the first international blueprint setting out an ambitious vision for the rights of all women and girls, was celebrated worldwide.

Still, as the pandemic continues into 2021, women’s organisations, who keep working under huge resource constraints, report on the dire situation on the ground resulting from the active political movement against women and girls’ rights.Women who are made particularly vulnerable by our society run a higher risk of being pushed even further to the side-lines and experiencing serious harm.

For this purpose, the EWL welcomes the recent proposal by the European Commission on pay transparency as a great first step towards closing the gender pay gap and ensuring the equal participation of women in the labour market.

“It is high time for the EU and its Member States to take firm action and adopt legislative measures to ensure the equal representation of women in all decision-making spaces, including in economic decision making. All EU actors must support equal representations of women and men in all EU institutions, including through the Conference on the Future of Europe.”, said Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of the EWL.

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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