As the Greens, we have our roots in the women's rights movement. We believe that our common struggles such as the climate crisis, but also the huge challenge lying ahead of us – recovering from the pandemic – require an intersectional approach.
In just the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased already existing gender disparities. Crises have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, and today hard-fought gains are under threat.
COVID-19 has shed light on the extent to which we rely on women on the frontline and at home. Women, whose competences are undervalued and therefore underpaid, are most often the workers in essential professions. Women make up the vast majority of the healthcare and social care sectors, but only 30% of its leaders are women. More than 75% of European care workers exposed to the virus are women. Furthermore, women-dominated professions have suffered from severe job losses, with 2.2 million women losing their jobs across the EU in just the first wave. The economic impact of COVID-19 will also likely be more long lasting for women. During a rise of employment in the summer, men gained twice as many jobs as women did.
Even as women deal with unequal wages for equal work, they are also affected by the greater family and care burden, leading to even more unpaid and unrecognised work. School closures and overburdened health care systems have meant that women tend to take on more unpaid labour in the home – from childcare and other kinds of social care work to domestic work. The UN states that this unpaid work has "long been recognized as a driver of inequality with direct links to wage inequality, lower income, and physical and mental health stressors."
Gender-based violence has also increased throughout Europe and abroad during the pandemic. Since lockdowns began, and even though less than 40% report incidents of domestic violence, calls about domestic violence drastically increased in many European countries. Urgent action to end femicide and gender-based violence against women must be taken to protect women during this pandemic and beyond.
The struggle for a feminist and inclusive Europe
With the pandemic as a backdrop, deeply concerning political moves have been made to further restrict women's rights to abortion, and push back on LGBTI rights in Europe. The Greens are currently working on initiatives to protect and advance women's rights, especially considering the latest developments. As a part of this, we have been calling for the European Commission to finally put forward directives that tackle the gender pay gap and gender-based violence.
Our resolution on Coronavirus Recovery tackles the gender dimension of the pandemic and sets forward precedents of how it should be addressed:
- Recognise the value of essential professions that are mostly taken by women
- Work towards equal pay for equally valuable work
- Guarantee access to emergency childcare if schools and kindergartens continue to be closed
- Ensure that women will not be unfairly penalised for any delays in their return to work
- Ensure access to reproductive healthcare and abortion
LGBTI Freedom Zone
As a response to the 'LGBT Free Zones' set in place in Poland, Green MEP Terry Reintke has co-initiated a European Parliament's first LGBTI Intergroup, which aims to establish the EU as an 'LGBTI Freedom Zone' to guarantee the protection and equal rights of the LGBTI community in the EU. The Intergroup is made up of more than 150 MEPs in the fight to guarantee LGBTI equality.
Its work focuses on monitoring the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in EU Member States and beyond as well as liaising with civil society groups to relay their concerns at the European level.
We will fight for our safety.— Terry Reintke (@TerryReintke) March 10, 2021
We will fight for our equality.
We will fight for our freedom.
This declaration shall be a signal.
A signal to the queer community everywhere in Europe:
Together we can make the European Union an #LGBTIQFreedomZone
During lockdowns, there has been an increase in reports of gender-based violence. Unfortunately, one of the risks of quarantine during pandemics is an increase of physical, sexual, psychological, and/or economic violence between former or current partners. EU legislation must be proposed to combat this and EU funds for these victims should be made available.
Ratifying the Istanbul Convention remains a priority. The Istanbul Convention, drafted in 2011, combats violence against women and domestic violence. Yet, 10 years on, we are still fighting for the rights of women and the LGBTI community, who are disproportionately impacted by violence. It is high time that the EU and all the Member States ratify and effectively implement the Istanbul Convention. We need our governments to back the convention more than ever.
Today is the 10th year anniversary of the #IstanbulConvention against gender-based violence. With the increase in domestic violence and feminicides during the pandemic, and Turkey leaving the Convention, urgent action is needed to protect women. All countries must ratify it. pic.twitter.com/nRotTqr1IO— European Greens (@europeangreens) May 11, 2021
At this moment, there is no EU legislation on ending violence against women. It has been a long-standing demand of us Greens to finally propose legislation in this area by the Commission. Sign the petition by the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament for a directive on gender-based violence!
Corona Funds: At least #halfofit should go towards women
We are fighting for a green Europe that takes care of marginalised communities, addresses structural inequalities like sexism and racism, and welcomes refugees and migrants. We want a recovery that is intersectional and inclusive because we know that the only way out of the pandemic is to centre people and the planet. We are convinced that recovery need to be transformative – including in terms of how we address gender inequalities.
Our Green Recovery is about 'investing in the resilience of our societies' to ensure "a way of living and producing that is not in contradiction with nature or social cohesion." In our resolution about the Green Recovery, we call on the Commission's guidelines to ensure that Recovery Plans adhere to the Commission's Gender Impact Assessment guidelines. Indeed, investing in historically male-dominated sectors without any mitigating measures may worsen both gender employment and the gender pay gap. Simply increasing the number of jobs in female-dominated professions, such as care and retail, is not enough without simultaneously improving pay and conditions.
As part of the campaign #halfofit, Green MEP Alexandra Geese is demanding half of the Corona funds for women to ensure that the funds aren't funnelled into male-dominated sectors. She asks that the European Commission and the European Council ensures that at least half of the Recovery and Resilience Instrument is spent on women's jobs as well as the advancement of women's rights and equality between women and men.
A recent declaration on social policy by Green Ministers also calls for investing in the "care economy", access to decent, affordable, well-insulated housing, improving access to childcare and care for dependants, and guaranteeing a minimum income for those that are marginalised and discriminated against and ending homelessness by 2030.
11 resolutions which reflect our commitment to a green and feminist recovery will be discussed at our 33rd European Green Party Council. Join the conversation! Register for the Council.