Women’s and girls’ rights have rarely been challenged as severely as they have been in Afghanistan. The most recent events are really concerning. Future EU development support to Afghanistan will be conditional on the international legal framework and human rights principles, particularly women’s and girls’ rights, being respected. The EU is dedicated to supporting Afghan women and girls, as well as women and girls around the world while remaining true to our values and ideals.
Equality, along with human rights, freedom, and democracy, is one of the key pillars that define the EU. It enriches and strengthens our societies’ resilience. Peace, security, economic prosperity, and long-term development are all dependent on gender equality. Furthermore, the EU Treaties mandate the defense and promotion of gender equality.
That is why promoting and safeguarding progress on gender equality is a priority and essential objective for the EU on a political, operational, and financial level. The new EU external action budget and the EU Gender Action Plan III provide a path for global action toward a gender-equal future. To achieve these goals, the EU collaborates closely with international, regional, and bilateral partners, as well as civil society organizations. There is no room for complacency because there is still have a long way to go. Despite the fact that many problems persist, we are stronger as a group.
The Covid-19 problem has increased existing gender disparities in a variety of domains, including education, vocational training, health, security, and safety, sexual and reproductive health, and rights, decision-making, and economic prospects in many countries.
Gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, has often increased during lockdowns, while access to sexual and reproductive health services has decreased. At the same time, women and girls have taken on a major portion of the care responsibility. Workers in the informal economy and low-skilled employment, the majority of whom are women, migrants, and minority groups, have been more vulnerable to discrimination and confront many forms of discrimination.
Furthermore, school closures have raised the danger of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy, child labor, and forced marriage for females. The Malala Fund anticipates that 20 million more girls would drop out of school this year, bringing the total number of girls out of school to 150 million. This is around a third of the EU’s total population.
Even in a year dominated by the pandemic, military expenditures in 2020 nevertheless topped global health spending. The world must redouble its efforts to promote gender equality in order to recover from Covid-19 in a sustainable manner.
Now is the opportunity to go above and above. This challenge necessitates a global response and must be addressed now, as we construct the future in which we want our future generations to grow up: one that is more fair, varied, and inclusive. In order to accomplish long-term change, we must address the core causes of gender inequality and discrimination.
Throughout the pandemic, the EU and its member states, as well as European financial institutions, have stood with women and girls. The EU has already mobilized $51 billion (€46 billion) in support of over 130 partner countries, with a special focus on women and youth.
Still, a lot more needs to be done to tackle the mounting problems. The Gender Action Plan III was created with this goal in mind. It encourages women, girls, and young people to take leadership roles in political, economic, social, and cultural affairs, as well as in all aspects of global peace and security.
The EU is attempting to re-establish human development. The EU is now putting this plan into effect, thanks to the new $90 billion (€79.5) NDICI-Global Europe instrument, which will fund EU foreign activities for the next seven years.
Support for education, especially for girls’ education, will play a key role. The EU has worked with partner nations throughout the pandemic to minimize the impact on learning and the well-being of children, as well as to facilitate a safe return to school, just as we do in emergencies.
As Team Europe, the EU already provides more than half of all worldwide education funding. The EU will expend funds to promote gender equality at all levels through high-quality education. Part of this fresh beginning is the combined $1.9 billion (€1.7 billion) contribution to the Global Partnership for Education in July, which will change education for girls and boys in up to 90 nations and territories.
The EU is stepping up its efforts in a variety of areas, including education and economic possibilities for women and girls, as well as enhancing their access to sexual and reproductive health care. By 2025, 85 percent of all new EU external initiatives will contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment across all sectors.
This is currently being finalized with its partner countries after extensive engagement with civil society, women’s rights campaigners, and young people. We must re-establish human development and meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, leaving no woman or girl behind.