On 23 November 2020, the Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, took part in the videoconference of the EU Development Ministers. The meeting focused on the EU’s joint efforts in the field of gender equality and debt relief efforts in partner countries, as well as the EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) III for 2021–2024.
Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened gender inequality and reversed decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights globally. I hope that through decisive action by the EU and all its Member States, we shall be able to achieve real progress and mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gender equality situation across the globe, the Parliamentary Secretary said.
Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica noted that societies resilient to the challenges that confront them and sustainable development cannot be reached without political, social and economic inclusion and engagement of women and girls. In the context of sustainable development, “ensuring access to both high quality education and vocational training is vital for all representatives of the society regardless of their gender. And at this point in time, it is of special importance to facilitate the acquisition of digital skills for women in order to promote participation of women and girls in the developing digital economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the sustainability of developing countries thus increasing the poverty and inequality gap and slowing down progress in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDPs). The meeting also addressed the matter of debt sustainability for low-income countries and the debt relief currently required. The EU and Member States expressed support for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) debt service suspension for the poorest countries.
A decision has been taken to allocate 183 million euros from the European Development Fund reserves to the IMF Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust Fund. Since April, 28 low-income countries, mainly from Africa, have been eligible for grants from the IMF Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust Fund towards debt service relief.
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva and the Chair of the Paris Club, Emmanuel Moulin, Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, and Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; and the Presidents of the European Investment Bank, Hoyer, and of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Renaud-Basso, also joined the discussion on debt relief as special guests.
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