Gender equality in Euro-Mediterranean and Gulf countries: perspectives in a post pandemic eraSpeech at the PAM Women's Parliamentary Forum / 4-5/7/2022, Lisbon, Portugal.
Madam President of the Women’s Forum,
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, vital to a healthy society. It means that everyone is equal and that their needs, goals and attitudes are considered equal. Men and women may have biological differences, but all of them should be free to create, make choices and participate in the decision-making process, have a fair share in goods, obligations and rights.
However, equality still remains a challenge. Despite the progress, women face barriers in accessing decent work, basic education and healthcare. They are victims of violence and discrimination and under-represented in the decision-making. For example, in the United States of America, abortion will soon be illegal in 13 states as trigger bans come into effect following the Supreme Court’s ruling. This is a backlash in women’ right to choose on matters affecting their bodies.
Greece following the European Strategy for Gender Equality, the Council of Europe’s requirements to combat violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, has already passed a law (Law 4604/2019) in 2019 to strengthen gender equality. The country also renewed the National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2021-2025 and in August 2021 ratified the World Labour Organization Convention No.190.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic affected women and girls disproportionately. From increased domestic violence to increased homework as caretakers, and from crucial economic impact in work sectors fulfilled mostly with women employees to precarious employment contracts.
Last year we dealt with a lot of complaints from women, who have suffered sexual harassment and abuse, verbal and physical violence in their workplaces. Women who broke their silence and gave their testimony in public as part of the #metoo movement.
Unfortunately, such incidents affect all women, the financially weaker, refugees in camps, migrants, etc.
The gender discrimination culture is produced and recreated in public, at school, in the workplace, at home, everywhere. An extreme outcome of this phenomenon goes by the term “femicide”. Women lose their lives from their partner, husband, father, son, just because they are women. The elimination of this inhumane practice requires an institutional framework and a long-term policy oriented towards the gender equality and respect for human rights agenda.
It requires policies to empower women, to combat gender discrimination and sexist stereotypes and a strong, extensive network of infrastructures against gender and domestic violence.
In Greece we have the Counselling Centers, Shelters for domestic violence victims and SOS hotlines. I personally and SYRIZA Progressive Alliance support the uninterrupted operation of the infrastructures and the upgrading and expansion of its operation.
We support the implementation of measures and horizontal policies in all areas of social life against the gender violence and sexism culture. We pursue equal participation of women in decision-making. That is why we launched the «50/50» campaign that established equal gender representation at all levels in our Party, as well as on the ballot for the Hellenic Parliament and the European Parliament.
Furthermore, education is a structural pillar against the fight of gender inequalities and stereotypes. The inclusion and integration of the gender dimension in the public life and curricula is the basic instrument for the promotion of gender equality as an attitude and lifestyle for students.
It is equally important to support women’s research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It is our duty to help young girls turn to science and STEM careers related to new high-skilled sectors. The state should also provide funding to women’s innovative business projects.
We are just at the beginning, there is still a long way to go. We especially, as legislators, need to step up the effort. We need to facilitate equal access to work for women and men, as the gender equality in the labor market is a necessary condition for ensuring high growth rates in a long term basis. We must try everything to remove the barriers that prevent women from participating and remaining in a workplace.
However, the legal framework is not enough. The existent laws need to be implemented in real life. We must combat the sexist stereotypes that have caught up women in specific social roles, remove all those obstacles that women face, and empower them. Sexism and gender hate speech have no place in our contemporary society.
Thank you for your attention.