German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday warned that the pandemic risked rolling back progress made on gender equality, as women take on the lion's share of childcare in lockdown and are more likely to work in at-risk jobs.
"We have to make sure that the pandemic does not lead us to fall back into old gender patterns we thought we had overcome," Merkel said in a video message ahead of International Women's Day on March 8.
Women have been disproportionately affected by the health crisis, she said, while being underrepresented in decision-making positions.
"Once again it's more often women who have to master the balancing act between homeschooling, childcare and their own jobs," said the veteran leader.
Women also outnumber men in care professions at a time when those jobs are "particularly challenging".
"More than 75 percent of those working in the health sector are women, from doctor's offices and hospitals, to labs and pharmacies," Merkel said -- yet women account for barely 30 percent of management positions in those areas.
"It cannot be that women are to a large extent carrying our society yet at the same time are not equally involved in important political, economic and societal decisions," she added.
Merkel welcomed recent legislation requiring listed German companies to include more women on their executive boards.