Gender and COVID-19 evidence informs Europe-wide policy change

The Gender and COVID-19 Project are delighted to welcome new measures from the European Parliament to protect women’s rights and enhance gender equality during and after the pandemic. We are proud that evidence published by our colleague Clare Wenham has had such a monumental influence on this decision. Kate Hawkins explains more.

A press statement reported that the new report on gender and COVID-19 was adopted in the European Parliament with 485 votes in favour, 86 against with 108 abstentions:

“MEPs stress the need for a gender-sensitive response to all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis in order to enhance gender equality and to protect women’s rights during the pandemic and post-pandemic period.”

Themes

The Report on the gender perspective in the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis period is a comprehensive treatise on the gendered and intersectional harms created by the pandemic and offers recommendations on how these can be overcome. It covers:

  • Equity, “Including women and men, young people, older people, persons with disabilities, victims of gender-based and domestic violence, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, children, single parents, and minority groups including Roma, LGBTQI+ people and refugee and migrant women.”
  • Barriers to health services, particularly those related to sexual and reproductive health.
  • Increased domestic and gender-based violence.
  • Women’s work and associated threats of infection, low wages, part time and precarious employment, lack of social protection, unemployment and the double burden of paid and unpaid care work.
  • The devastating impact of COVID-19 on low- and middle-income countries, particularly fragile and conflict-affected states.

To overcome current and future challenges will require, “a gender-sensitive approach, with gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting principles reflected in all aspects of the response to the COVID-19.” The report calls for an intersectional response. This includes a dedicated working group on this topic and country assessments to track progress towards gendered recovery plans.

The role of evidence

The European Parliament Report draws on evidence from a background paper commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s rights and Gender Equality. The gendered impact of the COVID-19 crisis and post-crisis period, outlines some of the key gendered effects thus far and suggestions for how these may extend into the post-crisis period based on currently available data on COVID and longer-term effects of previous outbreaks.

The report’s author, Clare Wenham from London School of Economics, responded:

“I’m thrilled that the European Parliament has adopted this text and is committed to not only recognising the gendered effects of COVID-19 but are trying to mitigate this gender inequality. Not only is this a great step for women, men and non-binary groups across Europe, but sets an excellent precedent for the rest of the world.”

We look forward to the next steps because of this report and are happy to support the process with relevant and timely evidence.

 

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