Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR)
European section of United Cities and Local Governments


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COVID-19

Equality - 14.05.2020

Local and regional female leaders call for a gender-equal solutions in the post-COVID world
More and more decisionmakers, public figures and elected officials are calling for a different world after the COVID-19 pandemic. By changing our mobility and consumption habits, as well as investing more in public health, we have a great opportunity to also change our lives for the better.The question of gender equality must remain central in the post-COVID era if we are to achieve more just societies.

That’s the message from local and regional female elected officials, expressed in a declaration adopted by UCLG during a session on women’s leadership after COVID-19 co-organised with UN Women: “It is time to be ambitious and see gender equality as an integral part of the solution to the many challenges we face.”

The participants discussed the various challenges that women in particular face during the COVID-19 crisis. The include the overrepresentation of women among healthcare staff and other essential sectors. “This has increased their risk of exposure to the virus” said Carola Gunnarsson, Lord Mayor of Sala (Sweden), CEMR spokesperson for international affaires and UCLG Vice-President for Europe.

In a previous analysis, CEMR and URBACT provided first some first estimations of how COVID-19 has  impact men and women at local and regional level. While men are more vulnerable to the disease, we have also seen increases in domestic violence and workload for women due to confinement.

Towards a gender-equal response to COVID-19

Gunnarsson also observed that women are insufficiently represented in high-level decision-making. Governance structures need to be transformed to better take women into account. This means not only have women in positions of responsibility, but also taking action in all areas: migration, rural areas, transport, access to employment and so forth.

Participants highlighted the many areas in which adaptation to COVID is necessary, including reconstruction, economic stimulus, reorganisation of the urban space and changing our work habits. In all these endeavours, there genuine equality between men and women needs to be a shared cross-cutting vision. 

The local leaders called for the involvement of women “in COVID-19 specialized groups or task forces, as well as in legislative, policy, and budgetary decision-making processes” so as to have a gender-sensitive response.
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