Gender equality in the live performance sector – taking stock of the impacts of the pandemic


Gender equality in the live performance sector – taking stock of the impacts of the pandemic

As collateral damage of the global health crisis, gender equality has taken a hard hit during the past year and a half. One of the sectors most affected by the pandemic is the live performance sector, where work was precarious to start with and the number of freelancers and other atypical employment relationships is high.

On 16 September 2021, the European social partners in the live performance sector (PEARLE*, FIA, FIM and UNI MEI) organised a webinar to discuss the different effects the pandemic has had on women in the live performance sector.

The keynote address was delivered by Bridget Conor, the author of the 2021 UNESCO Report “Gender & Creativity: progress on the precipice”. The report found that the cultural sectors are dynamic but vulnerable, with significant amounts of non-standard, or atypical, work. Because of this, the sector is one of the most impacted by the global health crisis, with women’s jobs and careers in particular taking a severe hit. Many studies are looking into the recovery of the sector but there is very little focus on gender equality in those visions for the future.

The infrastructure in the sector, particularly concerning freelancers, is based on women being the primary carer in the family. Studies show that women have been significantly overwhelmed by caring responsibilities during the pandemic, the situation being even more pronounced for women with disabilities. The pandemic has, however, also become the great leveller as many resources are now available and readily accessible online. It would be important to keep up the momentum of this flexibility and to promote options such as job-sharing. Parents and carers in Performing Arts (PiPA) has developed a 10-point Best Practice Charter that aims to change practices in the industry and to make workplaces more family-friendly. “It’s not just about enabling women to access careers”, says Cassie Raine of PiPA,  “but also about enabling men to access their domestic responsibilities”.

This webinar is part of a series of four thematic webinars on gender equality in the live performance sector. They are organised in the framework of a European project, which will produce an overview of the gender equality situation in the sector to identify the challenges but also the best practices. The next webinar will take place on 7 October 2021. For more information, please contact