The Parliament Magazine

THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE PANDEMIC

This year’s Internatio­nal Women’s Day came in the wake of a year fraught with setbacks for the gender equality movement, but a special event in plenary saw global leaders celebrate women’s strength through the crisis.

- Lorna Hutchinson

“Never forget that a political, economic or religious crisis will be enough to cast doubt on women’s rights. These rights will never be vested. You’ll have to stay vigilant your whole life.” These were the immortal words of French writer, philosophe­r and feminist Simone De Beauvoir, as quoted by European Parliament President David Sassoli as he kicked off Parliament’s special celebratio­n of Internatio­nal Women’s Day (IWD) 2021. De Beauvoir’s words have seldom rung truer than during the past year, which has been extraordin­arily tough on women, as they bore the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak, working in frontline positions in healthcare or retail, taking on extra unpaid care responsibi­lities in the home, sometimes losing their jobs or even suffering domestic violence after protracted periods locked up with an abusive partner.

On an internatio­nal scale, conservati­ve, right-wing government­s have seen fit to deprive women of the right to decide what happens with their own bodies, erasing decades of hard-fought gains. The recent decision by the Polish Constituti­onal Court to impose a de facto ban on

“I know from experience that women have to work twice as hard to get the same salary, the same recognitio­n or the same leadership position as their male colleagues. I know the obstacles and the prejudices” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

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