COVID 19

EWL Policy Brief: Putting equality between women and men at the heart of the response to COVID-19 across Europe

[Brussels, 10 April 2020] In the current global context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) recognises the significant and long-term impacts this health crisis will have for all across Europe and beyond, and that this will disproportionately be shouldered by women and girls. This is why EWL members across Europe and EWL’s Brussels-based secretariat have come together to draft the policy brief: ‘Women must not pay the price for COVID-19’. Our paper sets out the key calls to action for all European Member States and the European Commission.

This policy brief recognises that the deepest impact of the crisis will be on women and girls, and particularly on those who face multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, compounded with other factors including race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation, class, and/or migration status. Especially worrying is the situation of women and girls who are made vulnerable by our system, such as sole carers, those facing male violence, those in precarious work or economic uncertainty, all those who do not have safe accommodation, those requiring care, or who already face social exclusion.

The brief also notes that people who are stepping in to lead in providing care and support for all in this moment are overwhelmingly women, allowing society to continue functioning, and communities to live in self-isolation. Our solidarity is with every person doing their best in dealing with this crisis.

It is crucial that the EU Member States and the European Commission step up to act in solidarity across the continent to protect women from bearing the burden of the crisis and to use this moment to realise a turning point for our societies. Indeed, this crisis reminds us that care should be the backbone of our society and that we need to refocus on what should be our essentials. After decades of austerity and of cutting into social services and the health system, the crisis comes as a painful wake up a call that our society and economy has been heading in the wrong direction. Now is the time to become humbler and focus on what really matters: we must focus back on our values of solidarity which is at the core of the European project.

We have been continuously awed by the levels of community engagement, solidarity and collective approaches to responding to this crisis: now it is up to the European Institutions and all Member States to show the same collective approach through their EU-wide actions.

Below we set out the insights from EWL’s membership across Europe and our recommendations on key areas which are particularly key in the current context: - protecting our democratic principles, combatting male violence, realising feminist economics and an equal health system - and our recommendations to the Member States and the European Commission to ensure women do not pay the price of the COVID-19 crisis.

Please read and download our comprehensive policy brief:

Full version:

Summary version:


EWL Policy Brief translated by EWL Members into different languages:

Summary of EWL Policy Brief translated by EWL Members into different languages

EWL Statement with links to other resources on COVID-19

EWL Members’s resources and statements on COVID-19.


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