A woman walks inside an almost empty train station, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Madrid, Spain March 31, 2020. (SERGIO PEREZ / REUTERS)

MOSCOW / ROME / PARIS – European women's work-life balance has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) report shows.

The EIGE's Gender Equality Index 2022, which has a thematic focus on care, showed that the pandemic has increased informal and unpaid care at home, particularly pressuring women.

On average 20% of teleworking mothers unable to work for an hour without being interrupted by children, compared with 15% of teleworking fathers

Women in the survey were more likely to face interruptions while teleworking than men, the report said. On average 20% of teleworking mothers unable to work for an hour without being interrupted by children, compared with 15% of teleworking fathers.

The disruption to childcare provision also hit women's income. They were more likely to cut back on working hours, miss work, take unpaid time-off, or quit the workforce altogether.

"While the full extent of the social and economic impact is still unfolding, before and throughout the pandemic women were more likely to be unemployed or to work fewer hours than they wished," the report published on Wednesday said.

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Nonetheless, the index, which measures gender equality progress in the European Union, slightly increased to 68.6 points out of 100, 5.5 points higher than in 2010.

Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands were the top performers, while Greece, Romania and Hungary ranked at the bottom.

Women in positions of authority has largely driven this modest growth, although they remain underrepresented in politics, making up just over a third of members of regional and local/municipal legislatures and 33% of members of national parliaments, EIGE said.

There is a persisting gender gap among key decision-makers in major corporations and financial institutions in the EU, with women accounting for 8% of CEOs, 21% of executives, and 34% of non-executives in the first half of 2022, EIGE said.


The BQ.1.1 subvariant of COVID-19 is currently taking precedence over the BA.5 subvariant in France, immunologist Brigitte Autran, president of the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipating Health Risks (COVARS), told the news channel BFMTV on Wednesday.

The latest resurgence of COVID-19, according to her, is the "beginning of a wave," even though the increase in the number of cases is "not significant yet."

"The trend is not good, it is up" because of the subvariant of the virus, she said.

BA.5, the subvariant of the original Omicron subvariant of COVID-19 that has been prevalent in France, "has already been replaced, swept away by the BQ.1.1 subvariant, which is the baby of BA.5," she explained.

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"This variant is more contagious and it explains the current surge in the number of new cases," she noted.


Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have surged in Italy, so have admissions to intensive care units (ICU) albeit at a slower rate, a report showed on Wednesday.

According to the Italian Federation of Health and Hospital Agencies (FIASO), overall COVID-19 hospitalizations in the country grew by 19.5 percent over the week ending Tuesday.

It was the second consecutive week of double-digit growth, following a 24-percent increase a week earlier. Nevertheless, in ICUs the increase was smaller, rising by 9 percent over the last week.

Notably, FIASO's data showed that the number of unvaccinated individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 is growing faster than that of the vaccinated, with a 28 percent increase in admissions of unvaccinated patients on regular wards and a 30 percent increase in the ICUs.

On average, unvaccinated patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infections were around ten years younger than vaccinated individuals hospitalized for the disease, the report said.

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The increases came as health officials warned of a potential winter wave of COVID-19 in Italy, the first European country hit hard by the pandemic in 2020.


Russia registered 6,088 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the nationwide tally to 21,590,828, said the official monitoring and response center on Wednesday.

The center said the nationwide death toll increased by 59 to 392,002, while the number of recoveries grew by 5,557 to 20,997,710.