A Statement of the Feminism Working Group of the Party of the European Left.
The structural crisis of the capitalist system accelerated by the pandemic has further exacerbated the class and gender divides present in our society. This crisis has revealed the disaster of 30 years of neo-liberal policies in Europe and in the world: shortage of hospital beds, shortage of masks, shortage of medicines and patents in the hands of pharmaceutical companies responding exclusively to the interests of the dividends of their shareholders at the expense of health for all.
Privatization of health care has clearly shown the dramatic consequences of the commercialization of life. We have seen how thousands of elderly people died in private geriatric residences because economic interests prevailed over those of human life.
According to researchers, the impact of the pandemic affects women in a variety of ways, either by increasing domestic violence or by reducing wages, with some women reducing their paid working hours to take on new domestic responsibilities.
With coronavirus, women have been on the front line in the fight against the pandemic. They have kept our society functioning at the risk of their lives: domestic workers, caregivers, cashiers, nurses, social workers… as well as bakers, factory workers, public service workers, doctors, farmers… all these occupations in which women are concentrated at more than 70% (health, social, services, education) and that are the most devalued and underpaid.
Because they are occupying the most precarious jobs in our society, women were the most affected by partial unemployment, the risk of losing their jobs and forced telework despite the lack of childcare. Women were already the first victims of poverty in Europe. Among them are single-parent families made up of more than 80% of single-mothers who are at risk of precariousness and worsened poverty. Nowadays, the NGO OXFAM estimates that 500 million people in the world can fall into poverty, mostly women.
The pressure on women has increased further. New forms of work imposed, stretchable and at the expense of the separation between work and private life have led to an explosion of new forms of psychological and sexual harassment online and offline during the period. This period has also showed the digital divide and unequal access to a possible workspace within the home. The vast majority of companies and governments have not put in place any measures to counter these phenomena.
Having to continue to take over major part of the domestic work and the education of children during this period, women have still seen their mental burden increase from a double to a triple day’s work.
If neo-liberal measures increase, women will be the most affected at all levels. Existing studies already show how the lack of free time and the burden of care have a negative impact on women’s physical and mental health.
The confinement period had as consequence an explosion of macho, gender-based and intra-family violences of around 30% in several European countries, including France. In total, more than 243 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced sexual and/or physical violence worldwide in the past 12 months.
In Europe, millions of women and minors are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. During the pandemic, these people were even more invisibilized and vulnerable because they were isolated with their pimps. There is an urgent need to make visible and to draw up a European plan against those who benefit from the commercialization of women’s bodies (sexual exploitation, trafficking, surrogacy and pornography). We urge strong actions to guarantee these women the full rights of citizens, their freedom of movement, and policies to get them out of this situation of exploitation and slavery.
During this period we could observed with great concern the structural inequalities to access to healthcare in our society. The virus had a disproportionate impact on poor, Black and Asian (BAME) women. The situation of migrant women without citizen’s rights still extremely worrying as well, the closure of the centers putting them in an even more vulnerable position.
This crisis has also shown the huge lack of solidarity at European level. Even worse, a number of governments are now using the pandemic to reverse environmental commitments but also the fundamental rights of workers and women.
This is the case of Poland, where once again the right to abortion is threatened. In Hungary, the far-right government is multiplying macho and racist actions. The European Union’s migration policies, the limitation to the right of mobility, the violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions with the construction of a fortress Europe, increasingly militarized and bellicose, contribute to the establishment of global insecurity and an explosion of inequalities.
We will not pay for their crisis!!!
If women had stopped working, the world would have stopped and we would not have been able to overcome this pandemic! Many of them did it at the cost of their own life.
We refuse to serve as a tool for the interests of big companies and financial sector at the expense of the interests of workers and peoples. Today they offer us to be a “sacrified generation” with an exponential increase of unemployment and precariousness. This would hit young people and women even harder without solving the systemic crisis of the capitalist system. On the contrary, the society we should build today must be free from the patriarchal and capitalist domination with the objective of equality and human emancipation.
We demand a European and global emergency plan to:
The pandemic has shown that women have been essential to sustain life, being at the forefront of fire. We demand Nationals and European shock plans that guarantees our right to live with dignity, with equality and free from violence. We will continue to mobilize to smash patriarchy and capitalist system!
Feminism Working Group of the Party of the European Left, 2 July 2020
Originally published at the website of the Party of the European Left