Gender equality ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized nations called for eliminating the economic disparity between men and women as they wrapped up a two-day meeting in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on Sunday.

In adopting a joint statement, the ministers said movements for gender equality largely backpedaled due to decreased employment opportunities for women amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted gender imbalances as an urgent issue in the economic and employment fields" as women's jobs were disproportionately affected, said Masanobu Ogura, Japan's minister for gender equality who chaired the meeting.