Throughout the world, coronavirus crisis has hit women hardest, but it has also demonstrated their great strength and resilience, starting with the key role they have played at the forefront of healthcare workers and in scientific laboratories.
Among the effects of the lockdown there has been a dramatic increase in episodes of domestic violence and abuse against women everywhere. Not only that: with school closure, in many families, the education and care of children has been particularly concentrated on mothers and for many of them it is proving difficult, if not impossible, to return to work. Furthermore, it is not difficult to predict that among the discouraged or those who, having informal or precarious jobs, will find themselves unemployed, and many will be women. We need to know that, with the crisis caused by Covid‑19, there is a clear risk of seeing a step backwards in women's living conditions and gender equality.
25 years after the Beijing Declaration, that "revolutionary" platform on women's empowerment and mainstreaming, we absolutely cannot accept a global regression in women's living conditions and role.
That is why the defence and promotion of women's fundamental rights must be at the centre of all efforts to fight against the virus. The participation of women in the labour market, family services, the promotion of women's leadership roles in the economy and society must be priorities in recovery plans, to be built with the full involvement of women in decision-making processes.
Italy has long been committed to preventing violence and promoting women's rights. We therefore intend to take advantage of every opportunity, including through our next G20 presidency in 2021, to remain vigilant on this issue, just as we are committed to some global emergencies such as food security, the need to keep supply chains open, and debt sustainability.
Thanks to the timely approval and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, our country has long had the three-year national action plan against violence. Moreover, it should be remembered that, since the beginning of the pandemic, the activities of the anti-violence centres have never been suspended and the toll-free number to report abuse has remained active 24 hours a day to ensure a valid and continuous response to requests for help and support to victims of violence and stalking, including through the availability of temporary housing solutions to prevent victims from continuing to live with their aggressors.
The recovery from the pandemic and its economic and social consequences will not be neutral. We should not aim to return to "the way we were before". The objectives of Agenda 2030 with regard to gender equality, women's empowerment, the protection of reproductive health and the promotion of education for girls are even more topical today.
We should therefore have the ambition to seize the opportunity that the crisis offers us to relaunch and renew our commitment to promoting women's rights and empowerment. All this by working together as women, at national, regional and global level. There are women's skills and leadership, in Italy, Europe and the world, without which recovery will not be possible. Involving these energies, talents and creativity is in everyone's interest, to build a better future.