PES Ministers for gender equality and women’s rights call for a feminist response to the COVID-19 crisis

20/05/2020

Gender Equality Ministerial

Members of the Gender Equality Ministerial meeting by videoconference

Implementing gender equality must be a key priority for the COVID-19 recovery strategy, progressive gender equality ministers said today as they met with European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli.

The meeting took stock of national and EU level efforts to: support the social and health care sectors; introduce emergency measures to combat domestic and intimate partner violence; and, support female workers and families in precarious economic situations.

The ministers, Commissioner and other representatives of the progressive family convened at the invitation of PES Women President Zita Gurmai and Portuguese Minister of State for the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva.

Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said:

“Women represent most of the frontline against COVID-19 and will be especially affected by the social and economic consequences that follow. To minimise its impacts and to develop effective measures, our action must be based on knowledge. We have just launched a funding line to support research on gender impacts of COVID-19 and will take the opportunity of the Presidency of Council of the European Union, in 2021, to call for a joint effort to address the issue at the European level. We must not forget the role of gender equality as a principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights, linking it to the social and economic recovery plans.”

With Germany about to take over the EU Council presidency in July, German Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Franziska Giffey, added:

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed once more persisting gender inequalities in the labour market, especially in the division of paid and unpaid care work. There are also signs in many member states of the EU that women tend to be even more affected by domestic violence during the crisis. This is why during the German presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of this year I will make gender equality a priority of our activities. We will tackle gender inequalities in the labour market and fight gender-based violence with a special focus on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on women's lives in Europe."

PES Women President Zita Gurmai concluded:

“Our political family has always been and remains the leading champion of women’s rights in Europe. COVID-19 has clearly highlighted the extra burden women are carrying every day. It shows the need to integrate and mainstream a dedicated gender perspective into all policies and political action on every level. It is clear to us that without a substantial budget underpinning these actions, promises will not translate into real commitments.”

The participants also emphasised the importance of gathering and reporting gender-disaggregated data on the impact of COVID-19 and called for a speedy implementation of the EU Gender Equality Strategy, which is being spearheaded by Commissioner Dalli.

Although no formal Minister configuration in the European Council to address gender equality has taken place since 2010, progressives continue to meet to discuss actions in this area. The resumption of Council meetings would be a crucial step to strengthen gender equality in the EU.

The meeting was attended by: 

  • Mariana Vieira da Silva, Minister of State for the Presidency (Portugal)
  • Franziska Giffey, Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Germany)
  • Rosianne Cutajar, Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms (Malta)
  • Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality (Malta)
  • Helene Fritzon, S&D Group Vice-President, responsible for Equality (Sweden)
  • Evelyn Regner, Chair of the Women’s Rights Committee FEMM, S&D Group (Austria)
  • Zita Gurmai, PES Women President (Hungary)
  • Marja Bijl, PES Women Vice-President (Netherlands)