International Women's Day is dedicated every year to a special theme. We need to highlight all the challenges and dangers that women face in the modern world. This year’s theme is calling for a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination against women, and is of great importance, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go until we can speak confidently about breaking the glass ceilings. We need to break the stereotypes, which constitute a serious obstacle to the achievement of a real gender equality, in all aspects of life.
Sexual harassment of women is still identified mostly in male dominated professional fields. The distinction of professions to male and female still exists as well as the gender pay and pension gap. Besides, online hate speech against women is on the rise and gender-based cyberviolence poses a real threat to women’s rights and dignity.
Furthermore, over the last two years women have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men both in Europe and beyond, rolling back on the hard-won achievements of the past years.
According to the EU Gender Equality Index, at the current rate of progress, it would take another 60 years to achieve full equality between men and women."
In this regard, the Gender Equality Index, which measures the progress of gender equality in the EU and uses key criteria, such as the position of women in the areas of work, equal pay, responsibilities, leisure and access in knowledge and sciences, confirms this serious setback. According to the index, the current rate is 67.9%, meaning that it would take another 60 years to achieve full equality between men and women.
Recognising the need to bring all these multi-faceted challenges to the forefront, I have worked intensively as rapporteur for the European Parliament on the subject of under-representation of women in the fields of science, education and technology as well as in STEM professions in general.
Moreover, in my capacity as the European Parliament’s rapporteur on gender-based violence and cyberviolence, I underlined that the phenomenon of violence against women and girls continues to be a severe obstacle to equality. Indeed, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today. Unfortunately, it remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. Especially with the rise of new technology and social media, gender-based cyberviolence is a constantly growing threat with impacts at individual, social and economic levels, on women and girls and on society in general.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today."
In this framework, gender mainstreaming in education seems to be more important than ever, so that the notion of equality is enhanced radically and not superficially. Accordingly, information campaigns should go hand in hand with special educational programmes to help young people realise and tackle traditional stereotypes and barriers at a very early stage.
Constantly enforced legislation at the European level must be encouraged and implemented horizontally, with the aim of improving the situation and preventing future violations. It is up to the Member States not only to develop relevant laws and strategies promoting gender equality, but also to give guidelines to future generations as a vital step to ensuring women’s inclusive adjustment to all.
In the EU we support an ambitious framework by 2025, on how to advance gender equality in Europe and beyond. The strategy is based on a vision for a Europe where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free from violence and stereotypes and have the opportunity to thrive and to lead. The implementation of this strategy for gender equality takes a dual approach comprising gender mainstreaming and targeted measures to address gender inequality.
It is now more important than ever to intensify our efforts to overcome the dramatic impact of the Covid-19 crisis on gender equality."
The Covid-19 crisis presents an opportunity to change the status quo. It is now more important than ever to intensify our efforts to overcome the dramatic impact of the crisis on gender equality.
Now, it is time to break the bias, empower women in the most effective way and fight gender inequalities. It is in this direction that my interventions as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament go with the aim of breaking the bias that raises barriers to equal treatment of women.
This is the only way that Europe's low performance in the equality index will belong to the past! We have to stand together, as a united force, to advance gender equality and women's empowerment!