In a world designed by men for men women are often unheard, unrecognised, and under-valued despite contributing immensely to society. In the EU, the gender pay gap has only slightly reduced over the last decade, with women earning 14.1% less on average. Inequality is also present at home – where women often take more of the load when it comes to domestic work and care work. According to the UN, gender equality is critical in addressing poverty, disease, and armed conflict. But because of the pandemic, gains made in the past decades toward gender equality are at risk of being rolled back.
As part of the Green Screen project, which engages citizens in contemporary issues through films and debates, we discussed the progress that has been made concerning women's rights, its impact on women and girls today, and the challenges we have yet to face. How has the pandemic re-shaped our understanding of gender equity? And how can a Green Recovery advance women's rights and opportunities?
This month, we featured the film 'Woman' and held a debate on the progress that has been made concerning women's rights, its impact on women and girls today, and the challenges we have yet to face. Woman is a worldwide project giving a voice to 2,000 women across 50 different countries. It sheds light on the injustices women are subjected to all over the world, and the inner strength of women and their capacity to change the world despite all the difficulties they are facing. The project deals with topics such as motherhood, education, marriage and financial independence but also menstruation and sexuality.
Watch now: Thriving as a woman: today, yesterday, tomorrow
The debate explored the history of women's rights and where we are now, as well as what kind of allies we are still missing to address today's challenges. It was moderated by Mar Garcia, Secretary General of the European Greens. She explained several milestones in conquering women's rights: 1) the right to divorce, 2) same-sex marriage, and 3) reproductive rights and abortion.
The panellists touched on the need to keep up the daily fight on women's rights: voting rights, the right to abortion, and the right to have equal pay for equal work. They explained the barriers that women have when it comes to entering the world of politics. Mélanie Vogel, Senator for the French Living Abroad, explains that it is a constant effort to maintain an environment in which women can run for office. She reflects on how she felt during her candidature for the French Senate: "A young lesbian was elected in an institution where more than 70% of them are old white heterosexual guys. (...) Just the fact that I was elected sent a signal to a lot of people who could suddenly imagine 'I could also do that'."
"Politics is still making big decisions about our lives, and big decisions about our bodies and we can't just rest on our laurels about those battles that we've won. We need to keep defending these rights as they seem to be so easily rolled back in times of hardship. (...) My experience of being a woman in politics is we have to speak twice as often, twice as loudly, twice as much to be heard half the time. And that is a sad reality. Besides that, there are all the barriers to women have for standing to run as candidates. Women have to be asked at least 3 times to be asked if they want to stand to put themselves forward. Women just don't see themselves in politics as often as men do." - Amelia Womack, Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales
"Of course, when you look at it officially, it all seems equal and fine in some countries. Even where it looks so possible, you still see not so many women [in politics] and so many partners of men in politics taking care of all the care work. You never heard a man in the meeting saying 'I have to go, my baby's crying' or 'I have to go, my mother needs me' which is everywhere falling on women. (...) The next step would be to make men do more about this." - Iva Marković, Program Director of Polekol and Founder Right to Water
"Women's rights are always threatened – they are never there; they are never granted. We always have to be aware that they can be reduced or taken away from us when a crisis occurred, and the pandemic really showed that. Women suffered more than men of economic repercussion of the crisis. All of a sudden even in couples where you had a pretty fair distribution of domestic tasks, overnight suddenly when the crisis happened this division was not fair anymore. So I think you can never consider any of those rights that depend on having achieved the fight against the patriarchy are done." - Mélanie Vogel, Senator for the French Living Abroad and Committee Member of the European Greens
"I am done with the allyship of cis men. Sorry, not sorry – go read your books, go watch your movies, educate yourselves and don't ask me to explain because I'm too busy to explain things to you. The allyship that we need is intersectional sisterhood – so let's build this bond and allyship within ourselves." - Özgecan Kara, Secretary General, Federation of Young European Greens
Caption: Poetry Slam champion Adriana Bertran Anía, known for her feminist and politically charged live poetry, releases her latest work 'Let's talk money'. It broaches the topic of unpaid care work done by the women in our families and asks: at what cost?
As the Greens, we have been calling for EU and all the Member States ratify and effectively implement the Istanbul Convention. We also believe that the European Commission cannot delay the adoption of the Directive on gender pay gap and upgrading its provisions on parental leave. We have also been working to ensure equal pay for equally valuable work, address growing gender-based violence during the pandemic, and ensure access to reproductive health care and abortion.
Register now for free tickets to future film screenings! The upcoming session features the documentary film 'Maidan' (2014), chronicling the civil uprising in Ukraine. You can enjoy this film screening on The Green Screen platform, which will be made available for 48h next month, on 23-24 March! Free tickets are available, book yours NOW!
You can read more about our resolution 'Coronavirus Recovery: Let's build a better tomorrow!', which inspired The Green Screen project.