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Women are on the COVID-19 frontline –the EU must not leave them behind


14 Apr 2020


The PES, PES Women, S&D Group and the S&D FEMM working group issue a joint letter to EU Commission President

Europe is not seeing enough leadership or action for a gender-sensitive response to the COVID-19 crisis, European socialists and democrats are saying.

In a joint letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today, the Party of European Socialists, its women’s organisation PES Women, the S&D Group in the European Parliament, and the S&D FEMM working group say the impact of COVID-19 on women must be properly recognised and addressed.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“Women disproportionately work in professions where exposure to the virus is high, like cashiers, cleaning staff, or in health and social care. Women are more likely to be looking after children or elderly relatives, or doing other unpaid care work which could expose them to the virus. Women in abusive relationships are now trapped at home because of the lockdown. And women are typically underpaid and in precarious jobs, leaving them vulnerable to the economic consequences of this crisis. COVID-19 has exposed and reinforced these existing gender inequalities.

“The impact of COVID-19 on women is huge, yet we are not seeing enough leadership to properly recognise and address it. That is why we are calling on President von der Leyen and the entire college of Commissioners to step up and protect women’s safety and health as the EU responds to this crisis, but also to implement long-term measures to address existing inequalities and to shift towards a more equal and just society that leaves no one behind. This is a big chance to rethink our entire social welfare system and to close the gender gaps.”

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“This pandemic is deepening just about every social inequality, especially the gender divide. As we respond to this crisis, it is our moral obligation to respond also to the challenges women disproportionally face. This means actions to support them in work, at home, and thorough the economic after-effects, which are likely to be long-lasting, but also to put them in the centre of the economic recovery plan.”

The letter lists eighteen immediate and long-term actions to ensure a gender-sensitive and sustainable recovery. It has been signed by PES President Sergei Stanishev, PES Women President Zita Gurmai, S&D President Iratxe García Pérez, and S&D Coordinator for the FEMM Committee Maria Noichl.

In the letter, the progressive leaders commend Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, who has been outspoken and proactive about the gender dimension of this crisis. The pandemic has not only revealed the blind spots in our current system, but also deepened existing gender inequalities, demonstrating why the implementation of the EU Gender Equality Strategy is now more relevant than ever.



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