The President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Thursday addressed the European Parliament on gender equality and women’s key role in the fight against Covid-19.
During the debate, held with the participation of MEPs and MPs from EU national parliaments, Sakellaropoulou noted that this year’s International Women’s Day is celebrated in special circumstances.
“The pandemic is a hard, painful experience for everyone and exacerbates, among other things, the problems faced by women today.”
Sakellaropoulou stressed that in her position as President, which for the first time in its history has a woman serving in this high position, she feels responsible for the struggle that women have given and are giving to respond to the very unfavourable conditions of this period.
At the same time she underlined the selflessness, devotion and willingness of women working in the field of health (the doctors, nurses, and health personnel) and in areas that have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, such as cleaners, domestic workers, nurses, saleswomen or supermarket cashiers.
“Women working in sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic generally offer their services at lower pay than men, in precarious conditions and with the spectre of unemployment hovering relentlessly over them. Women who have shouldered, almost exclusively, the burden of home and family care, this ‘invisible work’ that is not paid and is often not recognised,” she added.
The president also made a special reference to “migrant women and refugees living in fear and misery, who are often victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, and multiple abuses. Older women, vulnerable and lonely women with meager incomes. Women victims of domestic violence.”
Last week, Greece launched www.metoo.gr (#MeTooGreece). The start of this initiative brings Greece one step closer to breaking the culture of silence and becoming a safer place.
The new government website aims to educate citizens about sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and authoritarian violence. It will also be used to provide people with information regarding the initiatives and actions that the government supports to combat these issues.
Sakellaropoulou noted that the MeToo movement has grown in Greece “highlighting the extent of sexism and abuse that women continue to face and empowering them to finally speak openly about their traumatic experiences and to seek justice.”
In her concluding remarks, the president stressed that inequalities are not overthrown overnight. “Equality is a challenge that concerns not only women but all of us, especially those of us who have the opportunity to contribute to the formulation and implementation of modern policies to achieve this goal.”