Since the Coronavirus crisis has hit, women across Europe are sustaining our society working in hospitals, childcare and supermarkets, their hard work was appreciated with applause on the balconies and public declarations, but they are still dramatically underpaid. Women are now losing their jobs at a much faster rate than men. Many of them work in “client-facing sectors” – tourism, events, hotels, restaurants, retail trade, different forms of therapy and many others which have been particularly affected by the crisis.
In March, almost five times as many women had lost their jobs than men. On top of this, women carry out the bulk of the additional unpaid work arising from closed schools and childcare facilities, sick family members and closed canteens. In Germany, it was calculated that parents spend three hours a day homeschooling their children. In 82% of the cases “parents” meant mothers. Due to this extra amount of extra work in the home, women hardly have time to participate in the public debate anymore. An article published in the journal “Nature” and some early academic studies (4) during the COVID lockdown showed that during the Corona crisis female academics submitted only half of the research papers to scientific journals compared to the previous period in 2019. Male colleagues submitted more compared to the same period in 2019. Women have less time than ever to invest in their careers – while rising unemployment leaves companies ample choice in hiring among men. This will make women’s advancement to the higher echelons of decision-making even more difficult.
The Coronavirus crisis is turning into an enormous crisis for women’s income, life-long earnings, pensions, overall participation and power in society. Now is the time to turn this moment into an opportunity for the advancement of gender equality.
The European Commission and the European Council are developing a 500 billion euro Recovery and Resilience Instrument. We support the Franco-German initiative for the planned EU reconstruction fund and wish it broad approval. This investment plan to relaunch and modernize the economy, with a priority on the digital and green transition, will shape Europe’s future by combating climate change and ushering in the green and digital transformation. This is an an absolute priority which we share, but there is on caveat: the digital and the energy sector are known to be male-dominated. Without additional measures, this economic stimulus instrument will not offer jobs for the women who are losing them – but for men. This could could turn into a redistribution programme of jobs and income being transferred from women to men. And thereby an instrument which will increase the impoverishment of women, funded by European taxpayers – half of whom are women. This is an example of unintended consequences which arise when the gender equality perspective is not involved applied at the onset of budgetary and recovery stimulus plans.
We invite you to sign and share a petition run by Alexandra Geese, Member of the European Parliament, Greens/EFA. The petition urges the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that at least half of the volume of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument is spent on women’s jobs and the advancement of women’s rights as well as equality between women and men.
We urge the European Commission and the European Council to make sure that at least half of the volume of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument is spent on women’s jobs and the advancement of women’s rights as well as equality between women and men. It is the European institutions’ task to ensure the implementation of Art. 23 of the European Charta of Fundamental Rights: “Equality between women and men must be ensured in all areas, including employment, work and pay”. We ask them to act in line with the European Commission Gender Equality Strategy adopted in March 2020.
We call for:
- Gender impact assessments and gender budgeting for all funds spent in the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument
- Investment in the care economy, developing resilient childcare services and schools that allow all parents to maintain paid jobs and a healthy life balance.
- Development of care services from a life-cycle perspective: a Care Deal for Europe and a European project for gender-disaggregated statistics of unpaid and paid work as a basis for a new calculation of GDP
- Obligations for companies receiving state aid or subsidies from the Recovery and Resilience Instrument to document that these funds will equally benefit employees of all genders; and especially those that have a low share of female employees and managers to hire and promote women respecting minimum quotas at management level
- A special fund dedicated to female-led businesses