Policymakers to converge for high-level event on women’s rights

Participants will include Parliament President David Sassoli, the president of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, her Commission counterpart Ursula von der Leyen and EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

01 Mar 2021

The conference, organised by Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, is entitled ‘We are strong: Women leading the fight against COVID-19.’

Frontline health service workers and others, including MPs, will join the gathering, held both physically and online, in Parliament on Thursday.

A Parliament spokesman said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the ugly truth - 70 percent of the global health and social workforce are women who are often paid the minimum salary.”

To help vulnerable workers, particularly women, to bridge the gender pay gap, the European Commission will present new pay transparency measures on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Socialist group said, “We cannot afford to let the COVID-19 pandemic become a gender equality crisis.”

The group has also organised a special event ahead of International Women’s Day 2021, which takes place on March 8. The two-day online event, “COVID-19: Overcoming new Challenges to Gender Equality”, is on Thursday and Friday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the ugly truth – 70 percent of the global health and social workforce are women who are often paid the minimum salary” European Parliament spokesman

It will involve workshops on preventing discrimination and gender-based violence, unpaid care work and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It will be opened by group leader Iratxe García Pérez, with debates on how to tackle the specific negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on women.

In a packed parliamentary programme, the Civil Liberties Committee will, on Tuesday, vote on Parliament’s draft input to the upcoming 2021-2024 Commission strategy for the protection of children’s rights.

The text will put forward proposals to better prevent violence and improve education, mental health, digital inclusion and LGTBI issues.

Also on Tuesday, the European Court of Justice will issue a judgment on a case that raises questions over judicial independence in Poland. The case relates to the nomination of judges to the Polish Supreme Court and recent changes to the right to appeal such decisions.

The ECJ has been asked to decide if those changes are unlawful or breach the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The EPP, in a statement ahead of the ECJ ruling, said it wants to “underline our serious concern about the deterioration of the rule of law in Poland.”

It says this comes “amid continuous attacks on judges and prosecutors and an intentional weakening of the independence of the justice system by the Law and Justice (PiS)-led government.”

It goes on, “We insist that the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and the respect of civic freedoms are fundamental to every democratic country.”

Later on Tuesday, ECR MEPs Bert-Jan Ruissen and Cristian Terheș will host a debate on the hardships said to be facing religious minorities in India.

An ECR spokesman said, “The discussion will address the severity of the situation that Christians and Muslims are facing and what the EU could do to support them.”

The talk will include experts from NGOs Open Doors and CSW as part of the activities of the Intergroup on Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the Commission is set to announce the Strategy for Disability Rights for 2021-2030.

An EPP spokesman said, “in these times of crisis, it is particularly essential to guarantee that all basic human rights of people with disabilities are ensured and that we protect our most vulnerable fellow citizens.”

On Thursday, members of the Committee on the Environment will vote on an implementation report on the Ambient Air Quality directive.

ECR shadow rapporteur Anna Zalewska said she believes that the EU should focus not on harmonisation but on technology, know-how, and financial support to meet the current standards.

“Additionally, the EU should aim to raise public awareness of the problem,” she said.

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