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The effects of covid remain sexist in Belgium

A Belgian study highlights the increase in inequalities due to the health crisis and puts forward several recommendations.

Max HELLEFF

Max HELLEFF

A Belgian study highlights the increase in inequalities due to the health crisis and puts forward several recommendations.

From our correspondent Max HELLEFF (Brussels) – Women are paying a heavy price for the health crisis. This is the conclusion of a study carried out by the Advisory Council for Equality between Women and Men. Several types of inequalities have been identified which are mainly reflected in employment, security, health and livelihoods.

We will retain some data: temporary unemployment with less benefits for women (up to 131.10 euros less per month than men), a reduction in the initial activity rate of women but an increase in that of men, the presence of a majority of women in fragile companies (such as the care sector) or their predominance when it comes to “corona parental leave”.

Figures and observations confirm that women stay at home more than before the health crisis. This situation is not without collateral damage. In terms of mental health, a quarter of women develop worrying rates of anxiety (compared to one in seven men). They are also the ones who, most of the time, take on the domestic and parental tasks weighed down by confinement.

Support for single-parent families

In terms of security, an increase in domestic violence has been noted. There is thus a 30% increase in complaints in the Brussels police area of ​​Uccle, Auderghem and Watermael-Boitsfort.

The Advisory Board’s report ties in with the annual study published two weeks ago by the World Economic Forum. This attributed to the covid the delays accumulated in the objectives linked to gender equality. The Advisory Council for its part makes a series of recommendations. It is necessary, he indicates, “to preserve the place of women in the labor market”, “to strengthen the support measures around single-parent families”, “to strengthen the fight against domestic violence and feminicides” … This notion of feminicide is currently the subject of debates in various circles, in particular parliamentarians.

The political world promises to take matters into their own hands. “This report will resonate with all decision-makers,” says Nawal Ben Hamou, the Brussels State Secretary for Equal Opportunities. The Socialist sent the Advisory Council’s report to all regional ministers, who were invited to respond, in concrete terms, to the recommendations of her cabinet.

On the Walloon side where there has been a lot of talk lately about the recovery plan Get up Wallonia, we remind you that there is already a transversal Gender Plan for the years 2020-2024. But this is not enough. According to the latest official statistics, the average personal income of Walloon women aged 25 and over is 70% of that of men. 27% of them still do not achieve financial independence (compared to 18% of men); intra-family violence and pauperization take off with the crisis, etc.

In the recovery efforts

Here, it is the “covid law” that we are thinking of reforming to get out of the rut by no longer basing it on the traditional family, but on the single-parent family, a model that is gradually establishing itself.

Future measures intended to reduce the gender equality gap should be part of the recovery efforts: strengthening family allowances, increasing the number of crèche places in order to enable women to have a professional life, etc. It is about creating “a Wallonia where inequalities will not be tolerated”.


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