The coronavirus pandemic affects everyone and every aspect of our lives. But not uniformly. It increases existing inequalities around the world. Those already in vulnerable situations are hit harder, including women and girls.
Women have been a driving force in the global coronavirus response, helping to save millions of lives. 70% of the frontline health and social workers are women. However, they also face more greatly the effects of the health and socio-economic crisis. Furthermore, the confinement measures in particular have deepened structural disparities affecting women and girls, and led to an intolerable rise in domestic and gender-based violence.
Human rights must be at the core of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. And women’s rights are human rights.
The Team Europe package, worth more than €23 billion, identifies women and girls as a priority group in our coronavirus response and recovery. All analysis, measures and actions taken should be inclusive and gender- and age-sensitive and mitigate risks of gender-based violence. Healthcare and protection services must be fully available to address women’s needs and rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. Full and effective participation of women in the decision-making processes at all the stages of coronavirus response and recovery must be ensured.
It is most urgent to protect women and girls suffering in their own houses. As homes’ doors have closed, we cannot turn a blind eye on what happens behind them. On 30 April, 146 partner countries joined our statement in support of the UN Secretary-General’s call on gender-based violence amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
As European Union, we remain committed to support effective prevention of, response to and protection from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination. This work is life-saving, essential and cannot wait, including in humanitarian settings, where the EU is committed to meet the specific needs of women and girls.
The EU-UN Spotlight Initiative remains crucial. We join UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call to make this a global platform, attracting scaled-up investment, and connecting countries and regions throughout the world to combat violence against women and girls.
The EU will continue to work with all partners, including civil society and the private sector, to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and build a better future for all. Women and girls must be at the centre of our global efforts. We must thrive for a more just, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable world, leaving no one behind.