International Women's Day: how far are we on equality?

On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8, Europe's press spotlights gender equality - with sobering findings from Poland, pandemic-related analysis from Spain and rebellious words from Turkey.

Open/close all quotes
Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Worth less than an embryo

In Polish politics women are no longer seen as human, Gazeta Wyborcza observes:

“It's good that March 8 is no longer a public holiday on which women are given flowers. ... For many years, however, there has been nothing but talk. And if things change, then it's only for the worse. Since 1989 the governments of so-called 'free Poland' have systematically stripped women of freedom and autonomy. ... This is about humiliation and reducing women to the order of the subhuman. Because those who are not free to decide what happens with his or her body, about motherhood, and who are considered less valuable than an embryo, are - unlike the latter - not a person.”

infoLibre (ES) /

Mature societies elect good women

infoLibre takes up the debate about whether women might be the better crisis managers that began at the start of the coronavirus pandemic:

“Perhaps we need to delve a little deeper into what characterises the nations that have been able to elect these women as heads of state or government. ... And we find that what these nations have in common has to do with their maturity as a society, with their social cohesion and with the quality of their democracy. Consequently, the success of certain women in steering their countries through the pandemic has less to do with the fact that they are women, or that they possess certain gender-specific qualities such as being compassionate and caring and more to do with the democratic maturity of societies that are capable not only of electing women, but electing a certain type of woman as their leaders.”

Habertürk (TR) /

Women, stop sacrificing yourselves!

Women should oppose the expectations of society, columnist Nagehan Alçı urges in Habertürk:

“We all live under a sort of national 'neighbourhood pressure' which considers it a shame for women to say 'I'. We're expected to be patient, to sacrifice ourselves, to grin and bear it. Why is it never men's turn to make sacrifices? ... From day one we are taught to be selfless, to stay in the background and to serve with devotion. Our children, our husbands, our families, our friends, and so on. Don't do it! ... I urge all women - regardless of your political views or lifestyle - to be aware of the emotional games in which society entangles us, and to oppose the system of exploitation disguised as 'devotion'.”

Duma (BG) /

Pandemic has accentuated feminisation of poverty

The Covid crisis has made it clear just how bad women's position in the job market is, Duma criticises:

“The burden on women is greater because they work in the sectors that are hardest hit, and occupy the worst-paid positions. Women make up nearly 80 percent of healthcare workers and the majority of those who care for seniors and children, meaning they run the highest risk of aking infection. ... There's also the problem of the incompatibility of family and work commitments. Women are often absent from work because being a mother and an employee at the same time is hard. This is the feminisation of poverty. The gap in pensions is the logical continuation of this.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Men, it's time for outrage!

A historic opportunity to bring underprivileged men a little closer to equality in the coronavirus crisis has been missed, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments ironically:

“Instead of a loud rebellion against the traditional division of labour, representative studies show the opposite: mothers have further expanded their supremacy in the home while fathers look on helplessly. How could it come to this? With millions of fathers working from home, they could no longer be denied direct access to nappies and mops? .... Men, get angry! Fight for your rightful share of the housework and childcare. The old role model that renders you ridiculous within your own family must be tossed onto the rubbish heap of history. Take your fate into your own hands! How else can the world change for the better?”

Karar (TR) /

Women are liberating themselves

Religious Turkish women are now taking part in public life more than they used to, observes columnist Yusuf Ziya Cömert in the conservative daily Karar:

“Those who in the 1970s saw nothing wrong in the fact that their sisters never went to university - and even drew some satisfaction from this - sent their daughters to university in the 1990s. ... Surveys today show that people with different political views don't consider it a problem when girls wear headscarves to university or work in the public sector. We've taken a big step forward. ... Our daughters and sisters have made a place for themselves in life. They achieved this, not us. ... We simply gave our approval to the reality happening around us. ... And just as women have come this far, they'll keep making progress in the future.”

Les Echos (FR) /

Make good use of existing instruments

New rules were introduced two years ago in France according to which all companies with more than 50 employees have to publish an equality index every year which takes wage differences and another factors into account. Two HR experts praise the instrument in Les Echos:

“The critics are right, the index must be gradually improved to take account of part-time work, the low-wage sector and the presence of women on management boards. But despite these shortcomings, companies can seize the opportunity and move from retrospective to prospective use - by turning the index into a dashboard that can be used to control change. ... Equality can be promoted here and now. ... Let's go.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Beyond a man-woman mentality

The bipolarity must be overcome, journalist Barbara Gianetto Lorenzetti writes in Corriere del Ticino:

“The road to equality is still long. Every 8 March we see this again in the statistics on the wage gap, the groups most affected by unemployment or the mistakes in family policy, while stories of abuse continue to fill our newspapers. ... This is why it's essential that we keep setting ourselves new goals. But perhaps it's time to change the register and the approach, to give up the traditional image of bipolarity between men and women and move towards a balance aimed at development and respect for people, understood as human beings in their totality and uniqueness, beyond gender.”