It has been widely acknowledged that women are a driving force in the global COVID-19response as healthcare and social workers. The pandemic has underlined the indispensable role of women in the labour market, their overrepresentation in the frontline of low-paid jobs and in ensuring the most basic and essential community services. The panemic has highlighted the need for a better enforcement of the principle of equal pay for equal work. It has made us all acutely aware of the need to address the burden of unpaid work that women are shouldering.
The confinement measures in particular have deepened structural discrimination against women and girls, and led to an intolerable rise in sexual and gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence. The EU remains firmly committed to ensuring effective prevention of, response to and protection from all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination. We wish to recall our Spotlight initiative in this regard.
This pandemic has also limited women’s access to sexual and reproductive health-care services as these services are often characterized as non-essential. The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in this context. .
The response to the pandemic and its aftermath should be gender-responsive. Women's participation in the labour market, new services to families, promotion of female leadership roles in the economy and society must be priorities of the Recovery Plans, to be built with the full involvement and equal voice of women in decision-making. The collection of age and sex dissagregated data, facilitates analysis and research, including on wage determinants, and therefore contributes to a better understanding, monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of policy interventions. In EU’s response package to COVID-19, women and girls are identified as a priority group. All analysis, measures and actions taken should be inclusive and gender- and age-responsive and mitigate risks of sexual and gender-based violence.
Building back better means that human rights, including for all women and girls, need to be at the center of our battle against the pandemic. We have to redouble our efforts to erradicate entrenched discriminatory attitudes, gender stereotypes and practices in order to achieve gender equality and a sustainable future for all. We would like to ask the panellists what key action areas they see in this regard?