On 26 May
2020, the Committee on Employment and Social
Affairs (EMPL) will exchange views with EU Commissioner for Equal Opportunities Helena Dalli
on the Commission’s work programme and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on
women. Prior to this, the Committee on Women’s Rights and
Gender Equality (FEMM) will meet to prepare a report on the issue.
studies and associations have revealed an alarming picture for the financial
circumstances and health of women as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Impact on safety and health
to UN Women, 70% of workers in social services
and care professions worldwide are women. Similarly, women also make up the
majority of the workforce in the cleaning and retail sectors. These women are
exposed to a higher risk of infection. Caring jobs and the risk of infection mean
an increase in psychological stress.
about livelihoods and lockdown restrictions have also led to an increase in
Impact on pensions, careers and company developments
In terms of
the socio-economic consequences, a recent study by the Hans Böckler Foundation and a survey by the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) show that it is predominantly women
who have taken unpaid leave from work or have reduced their working hours in
order to take care of children. The negative consequences of this are many and
above-average number of women are employed in precarious jobs and in the
low-wage sector. The loss of income due to reduced working hours cannot be
recouped and poverty can be the result.
long-term effects include a drop in pension entitlements due to lower
result, there are fewer women present in companies at a time when many
decisions are being made about setting the future course for these businesses. Consequently,
women are missing out on career opportunities.
This also means
that they have fewer opportunities to contribute their opinions about the
company’s future development and culture. There are fears that this could lead
to a backwards slide in equality.
Calls on policymakers to take action
and institutions such as the European Institute for Gender
the European Women’s Lobby are therefore calling on
policymakers and European institutions to learn from the crisis and implement
appropriate gender equality policies.
In a declaration from 5 May 2020, the European Union’s High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, stated:
‘All measures and actions taken in response [to the pandemic] should be
inclusive and gender-responsive and ensure the women’s full and effective
participation in decision-making processes and in all stages of response and
to be seen if the exchange of views with EU Commissioner Dalli will bear fruit
or whether the equal rights movement in the EU will be set back by years or