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G7 leaders urged to take action to protect women from online harassment

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Boris Johnson and his fellow G7 leaders have been urged to take tougher action to protect women and girls from harassment online.

A panel of experts also warned there is mounting evidence that the Covid-19 pandemic risks putting back work on gender equality unless governments take urgent action.

The G7 gender equality advisory council (GEAC) said women have been "at the centre of the response" to the pandemic, and must also be at the heart of the recovery.

The panel, led by former Today programme editor Sarah Sands, called for "an end to the stereotyping and unequal treatment of women in the media".

GEAC also demanded action to tackle online harassment and abuse of women and girls, through the introduction of legislation that establishes a "duty of care" on technology giants to improve the safety of users online.

The panel also called for appropriate controls for online pornography sites.

The group's findings are being presented to the G7 summit in Cornwall by Ms Sands on Friday.

GEAC, which includes former Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop and Oxford vaccine expert Professor Sarah Gilbert, raised concerns about the impact of the pandemic on women's rights.

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Its report said: "Just as women have been at the centre of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic as health workers, care workers, scientists and teachers, they must equally be at the heart of a recovery that ensures their rights, meets their needs and recognises their contributions."

There is "mounting evidence that Covid-19 risks a step back for gender equality globally, unless governments take urgent action", it warned.

"Despite the centrality of women in the response, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls everywhere by exacerbating existing inequalities."

Ms Sands said it is a "historic moment for women and girls", adding: "The pandemic stopped the clocks of social change: now we must accelerate into a recovery."

Women and equalities minister Liz Truss said: "The UK has a proud history of championing the rights of women and girls both here and across the globe.

"I'm pleased that we are using our presidency of the G7 to put women at the heart of our recovery from Covid-19 through the work of the gender equality advisory council.

"These recommendations will help us drive forward a strong agenda on women's rights, both domestically and internationally, and I look forward to working with GEAC members as we build back better."


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