Italy’s working women get a bad deal with coronavirus
Reconciling work and family life isn’t easy for Italian women. Workplace culture has often discouraged women from returning to work after maternity leave, not allowing for flexible hours so women can care for their families. And women’s care work is vital to Italian families, as women between 25-44 years of age carry out about 70 percent of this work. The limits to affordable childcare exacerbate most women’s situations.
The public health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 has only made things worse for Italy’s working women. With schools shut, more women are pressured to resign at their jobs so they can meet their families’ care needs. On the other hand, Italian women are overrepresented in ‘essential’ jobs and many have had to keep working despite the risk. Indeed, more than 70 percent of people who contract the virus at work are female. Many Italian women have therefore found themselves in two equally difficult situations: they’ve either given up their professional lives for the sake of their families (and at the expense of the downed Italian economy) or have no choice but to work a job on the front lines, putting themselves in contact with the virus.
Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe is elected president of eurozone finance group
Paschal Donohoe beat out candidates from Spain and Luxembourg to become the next president of the Eurogroup, the group of finance ministers from countries who use the euro. The win is a milestone for Ireland, which received a eurozone bailout only 10 years ago. But it was also a blow for the Eurogroup’s four biggest members – Germany, Italy, France, and Spain. Each had purportedly backed Spain’s Nadia Calviño for the post. Donohoe will have a huge responsibility as leader of the Eurogroup, steering the EU out of its worst economic crisis in decades. Primarily, he’ll have to deal with disbursing aid to member-states from the €560 billion coronavirus recovery fund. Donohoe is hoping to bring an Irish perspective to the table, as a smaller member-state that’s benefitted significantly from EU membership.
Pubs and restaurants re-open in England
Over the weekend, pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. While reopening is a huge relief to the sector, some pubs will struggle with the new safety measures put in place. Many of the UK’s pubs were already on a downhill slope before the coronavirus, with local pubs closing at an alarming rate across the country. Twenty-five percent of the pubs that were open in 2001 were closed at the beginning of 2019. In many rural communities, local pubs are the cornerstone of social life. Community-led efforts to save pubs have been gaining traction in several parts of the UK, helping to hold onto these features of British heritage. Some pubs have managed to stay afloat during the crisis thanks to crowdfunding. But not every pub will remain open. The effects of the coronavirus could deal an even more devastating blow to British pubs.
Coronavirus restrictions tighten in the Balkans
This week saw countries in the Balkans tighten their coronavirus restrictions as the number of cases started to increase again. Greece also shut its border with Serbia amid a COVID-19 spike. In Belgrade, the increase forced three hospitals to revert to coronavirus-only facilities. Serbia has recorded its highest increase in infections since April. Restrictions have been placed back on residents in Pristina, Kosovo, as well as three other cities in the country. As a result of more cases in the Balkans, Austria has imposed a travel warning on Bosnia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Read last week’s edition of This Week in Europe.