European Federation of Journalists

International Women’s Day: More support for female journalists as Covid sets back gender equality 

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On 8 March International Women’s Day, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) calls for more vigorous actions to be made by governments and employers’ organisations to improve gender equality as the Covid crisis has deepened gender inequality. 

Members of the EFJ experts groups on labour rights and freelances have looked at the working conditions of journalists during this period and noticed that working-from-home and lockdown policy has had a much greater impact on female journalists. 

In Germany, according to a study from the Hans-Böckler Stiftung, women spend 1.7 hours more on work concerning family duties, since men tend to work longer days in the home office. “For women, working in the home office often means that, due to the extra work for the family, they have little time to take care of their professional contacts. This makes them lose out in teams and important career networks,” said Andrea Roth, Chair of the labour rights experts group (LAREG). 

It may seem that teleworking offers the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance. In reality, it worsened the situation of women because they often take care of housework and childcare. 

With working from home and everything taking place online, female journalists are especially at risk, since they have to put up with enormous consequences due to various threats, insults and pressure. The increase of those attacks is visible in numerous reports and surveys.

For instance, a survey conducted by UNESCO and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in late 2020 found that 73% of women journalists said they had experienced online violence. Notably, online attacks often have consequences offline as well: 20% of the respondents said they had been attacked or abused offline in connection to previous online violence.

On this day, the EFJ demands that EU institutions, governments and employers’ organisations improve the following areas:

  • equal pay 
  • provide financial support to female workers
  • higher unemployment benefits e.g. as compensation for the loss of wages due to the Covid-19 crisis
  • more credits for childcare and pension for the years 2020 and 2021
  • training on digital skills (included in recovery plans)
  • financing of training on labour laws and conditions that includes gender inequalities (there is a provision in recovery plans called ‘promotion of decent work’)