The COVID-19 global pandemic will have long-term consequences for our societies and the global economy. It is imperative to implement a gender-sensitive approach in the responses to the pandemic and in the recovery phase – to make these measures more effective and ensure that no one is left behind. The European Commission thus launched a series of webinars on gender equality aspects of the COVID-19 crisis, as part of the Mutual Learning Programme in Gender Equality. Although the problems are similar, Member States may be tackling them in different ways. The webinar series provided an opportunity for sharing and discussing different approaches and possibilities.
One of this webinars focused on Gender equality aspects of work and care in the context of COVID-19. It took place on 18 June 2020 and addressed two related gender equality themes: care and work.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s burden of care increased following the closure of childcare facilities, schools, care services for elderly and disabled people. In addition, many women work in jobs on the front-line in the health and social care sector, education, and retail, which are often low paid and insecure. Good practices on valuing care work and encouraging its equal sharing included Belgium’s “special COVID-19 parental leave benefit” and measures introduced in Malta to support work-life balance through teleworking. The second theme of valuing women’s work featured good practice measures from France on empowering women in the labour market and the new post-COVID-19 action plan on gender equality, and from Italy on tackling gender business challenges during and after the crisis, in particular through a special fund for female entrepreneurship.
During the webinar, it was stressed that gender-sensitive responses are urgently needed, as the COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a disproportionate impact on female-dominated jobs and reinforced gender roles , but also because there are long-term economic and social consequences that will impact gender equality. Key issues include protecting women working in the most precarious jobs, promoting women’s employment and entrepreneurship, and ensuring the equal sharing of care responsibilities between women and men, alongside access to good quality care services.