PES Women: It is time to create a formal Council configuration for Gender Equality

19/06/2020

Zita Gurmai

PES Women President Zita Gurmai

Ahead of the EU leaders meeting on 19 June, PES Women and its member organisations are once again calling on the European Council to establish a Council configuration for gender equality.

PES Women President Zita Gurmai said:

“EU leaders must take their responsibility and create the necessary institutional structures to advance women’s and minority rights. The EU Gender Equality Strategy will hopefully lead to ambitious proposals from the Commission, which deserve the Council’s full attention. Now is the time for ambition and progress, not inaction.”

This has been a key priority for PES Women for many years, but recent events have highlighted again the strong need for a dedicated forum where gender equality ministers and state secretaries can come together and coordinate their efforts at the European level.

Zita Gurmai added:

“2020 was supposed to be the year when the EU finally started to take gender equality seriously. It marked the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and we finally got a new EU Gender Equality Strategy and a progressive Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli.

“Then COVID-19 struck. The pandemic has entrenched injustice and inequality across our society. Women are on the frontline of the crisis as essential service workers and unpaid carers. We are seeing a resurgence of traditional gender roles, increased gender-based violence, more economic precarity for women and a backlash against sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

“To combat this threat to the rights of women and girls and to advance gender equality, we need strong leadership from national governments. The creation of a Council configuration for gender equality would show that the EU is taking gender equality seriously and is willing to put women’s rights at the heart of its recovery strategy.” 

PES Women is also calling on EU leaders, who are meeting today (19 June) to discuss a COVID-19 recovery fund and a new EU long term budget, to make sure that women’s disproportionate burden during this crisis receives an appropriate financial response. Recovery funding must be based on a measurable gender mainstreaming principle, and extra money should be allocated to existing EU budget lines and programmes that target women, in particular regarding gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights and women’s labour market participation.