Statement by the European Commission ahead of International Women’s Day 2021

March 8, 2021
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Ahead of International Women’s Day, the European Commission issued the following statement:

“The past year was a difficult one. The COVID-19 pandemic has spared nobody, and was particularly challenging for women around the world. Doctors, nurses, teachers, shop assistants – jobs often held by women – have found themselves at the frontline of the pandemic. All this, while taking on greater responsibilities at home.

Let us take a moment to thank women for their bravery, their compassion and their contribution in fighting this crisis, also by keeping our societies, care systems and most essential services running.

While women make up the majority of frontline workers in the healthcare, they were barely represented in the pandemic decision-making processes. For instance, of the national dedicated COVID-19 task forces in 87 countries, including 17 EU Member States, 85.2% were led by men.

Gender equality must be at the heart of the post-pandemic recovery. The Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation provides that gender equality and equal opportunities for all should be taken into account and promoted throughout the preparation and implementation of national recovery and resilience plans. Women must also be better represented in leadership position be it in politics or on companies’ boards – we will continue to fight for it.

The Commission spared no efforts in pushing for greater equality between women and men in Europe and beyond. Delivering on one of the key elements of the EU’s Gender Equality Strategy, the Commission tabled a proposal for new measures enforcing the equal pay principle. Gender equality is one of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, and this week’s ambitious Action Plan to implement the Pillar. Gender equality is at centre of the EU’s external action too. The EU Gender Action Plan (GAP III) outlines a bold and operational agenda to promote equality and ensure women and girls all around the world are empowered to participate in shaping democracy, justice, peace and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing inequalities in our society. It put women at a great risk, including at times in their own homes. Later this year, the Commission will present a new proposal to combat gender-based violence in the EU. In our partner countries, the joint EU/UN Spotlight Initiative adapted priority actions on the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence to urgent needs.

Progress is hard-won, but easily lost. We must work for Europe to remain a trailblazer in women’s rights. Backsliding is not an option and we will continue to push forward.”

Read more

Full statement

Press release – International Women’s Day 2021: COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge for gender equality

Countries covered:

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Morocco
  • Palestine *
  • Syria *
  • Tunisia