The far right’s use of the pandemic for its despicable misogynist crusade must be countered by advancing the rights of women and investing in public health and services, say Left MEPs.

As controversy brews ahead of this week’s vote on a report on the situation of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in the EU, the recent backlash against women’s rights has been thrown into the spotlight.

On the pretext of the pandemic, right wing and extreme right reactionary governments intensified attacks on the rights of women and girls, blocking their advances. On foot of this, the draft report calls for the EU to support and promote universal and full access to SRHR services and reaffirms that SRHR are key for gender equality, economic growth and development, child protection and the elimination of gender-based violence, human trafficking and poverty.

For the Left, much of what is mirrored in this report coincides with decades of struggle by women and girls for their rights. However, the objectives set out are contradicted by the EU’s austerity policy instruments, which contribute to the suffocation of public services, to the closure of maternity hospitals and health centres, to firing health professionals.

Delivering guaranteed rights means breaking with current policy.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s debate and vote on the issue, Left MEP Sandra Pereira (Partido Comunista Português, Portugal) says:

“We want to highlight and value the struggle of women for sexual and reproductive rights, including access to abortion. This is a permanent struggle for advances in the law and against setbacks, which attack the safeguarding of women’s health, rights and dignity, with increased risks for women from the most socially and economically disadvantaged classes.”

Today more than ever, EU member states must ensure:

  • the right to sexual and reproductive health;
  • full access to safe abortion;
  • freedom of choice for women and girls on contraception;
  • better sex education and more information and awareness-raising campaigns for girls.

This is only possible with stronger public health services, which guarantee the universality of these rights.

In the last decades, many EU countries have spearheaded the struggle to guarantee and enforce sexual and reproductive rights, through high-quality public health services, access to reproductive health services and free access to contraception.

These rights, won by the struggle of women and girls, must be extended.

 

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Sandra Pereira

Partido Comunista Português

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