World leaders must put women at centre of COVID-19 recovery

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Undersecretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic gender divide around the world.
  • As G7 leaders meet this week, they must address efforts to increase gender equality to boost global economic growth.
  • UN Women’s Global Acceleration Plan aims to catalyze well-financed and transformational commitments.
  • Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, women and girls around the world confronted a gender gap that left them less able to step into leadership roles, earn a fair wage, or access quality health care or education.

    The economic and health impacts of the pandemic have turned that gap into a chasm, and risk undoing much of the even modest progress achieved in reducing pre-pandemic gender inequalities.

    Not a single country in the world can boast of being gender equal – a fact that is straining health systems, widening socio-economic gaps and undermining social protection.

    It is also stalling economic growth. Economic modeling from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that advancing women’s equality could add trillions of dollars to global growth, boosting prospects for even the least-resourced countries in the world to improve the quality of life for their entire populations.

    As G7 countries meet this week, and as all countries look to rebuild greener, more resilient and gender-equal economies in the wake of the pandemic, they must elevate the richness of the diversity of women’s talents, ideas and innovations in decision-making spaces.

    Yet women hold just 26.1 % of 35,500 parliamentary seats across 156 countries. They represent just 29% of those in senior management – and are even more absent from executive roles.

    Despite these almost ubiquitous challenges, with bold policies to boost women’s economic empowerment, now is a critical moment to shift course and accelerate constructive change.

    The Generation Equality Forum in Paris (30 June – 2 July), offers another pivotal moment to create that much-needed change. At this landmark conference, we are calling for governments, companies and organizations to join us to make bold commitments to advance gender equality.

    We are mobilizing around a Global Acceleration Plan centred around six Action Coalitions, including one focused squarely on economic justice and rights. The Action Coalitions bring together the broad range of actors needed to drive progress forward now and post COVID-19 – setting civil-society activists shoulder-to-shoulder with trade unions, parliamentary representatives, business leaders and government agencies.

    By the time of the Paris Forum, we hope that these multilateral, inter-generational and vibrant partnerships will have catalyzed well-financed and transformational commitments for the six Action Coalitions and for the Compact for Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action.

    Image: UN Women

    How to create more equal economies

    What could transformative commitments look like in the arena of economic justice and rights? And how could they create more resilient and equal economies as the world re-builds?

    One way is by committing to supporting and resourcing care work. The care sector in too many economies, both industrialized and developing, remains poorly understood and inadequately resourced. During COVID-19, it has come under particularly acute pressure, with women and girls shouldering the majority of the burden.

    Underinvestment in care – for children, for aging parents, for those requiring additional support – reflects a dangerous misconception that care is “free” (read: women’s work) with little bearing on social and economic development. Any government seeking a strong return on their fiscal recovery package must invest in the care sector, providing well paid, safe care options that recognize, reduce and redistribute the current unpaid care work in homes.

    They must also reward care workers and guarantee their labor rights, including through universal safety nets that extend beyond the formal sector. Only when care is at the center of social and economic policies will a better future of work be possible for women and men with family responsibilities.

    Another way is by creating more decent and equally paid work for women. Commitments in this arena might focus on reskilling and redeployment to get women back to work as well as into professions that have traditionally been male-dominated. Commitments to advance this goal might include access to technology and targeted job training programmes.

    In addition, setting targets for women in leadership and management through potential-based hiring will power new leaps in women’s representation and leadership across existing and emerging professions. Such investments will also offer businesses a competitive advantage.

    World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021 income gap
    Image: World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2021

    Another essential component of a gender-equal post-COVID economy is a commitment to close the gender wage gap. This will require reinvestment strategies that improve work quality and pay standards across currently low-paid essential work, much of which remains “female”. Addressing wage inequality will offer broader social protection and do much to address extreme poverty and the shadow pandemic of men’s violence against women and girls, at home, in public spaces and at work, which has added a further dimension to the far-reaching damage caused by the current crisis.

    We cannot build back better after COVID-19 without gender equality. Specifically, we must place women at the center of our economic recovery. Now is the moment for leaders to publicly commit to that work – by supporting the care economy, and equal wages and access to opportunities.

    Committing to the Generation Equality Global Acceleration Plan will set us on the path towards a more sustainable and just future, to ensure prosperity for all, and the realization of the 2030 Agenda. I invite all countries, businesses, civil society and youth organizations to join us by making a commitment.

    Image: UN Women

    the sting Milestones

    Featured Stings

    Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

    These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

    How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

    Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

    How global trade can save lives and livelihoods – and help protect the planet

    From philanthropy to profit: how clean energy is kickstarting sustainable development in East Africa

    Would you want to live to 150? Top quotes on what it means to grow old

    Saudi Arabia: UN experts push for prompt release of women human rights defenders

    EU ready to relinquish its internal tax havens

    The megatrend that will shape our working future

    Why people with disabilities are your company’s untapped resource

    Time to say goodbye to the plastic straw. But what’s the best alternative?

    Can Obama attract Iran close to the US sphere of influence?

    How COVID-19 is helping Oman develop a future-ready workforce

    Africa-Europe Alliance: EU boosts pan-African Internet connectivity with €30 million

    This US city put an algorithm in charge of its school bus routes and saved $5 million

    Why the financial scandals multiply?

    Heading back to the cinema, theatre or a concert? Here are 3 ways the arts are adapting to COVID-19

    Russia – US in Syria: Selling Afrin to Turkey but facing off ruthlessly for Ghouta

    ‘A trusted voice’ for social justice: Guterres celebrates 100 years of the International Labour Organization

    Europe slammed by Turkey’s shaky Erdoğan; both playing with immigrants’ agony

    America writes-off Iran, blocks Europe’s Tehran talks

    Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

    4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

    Stepped-up efforts needed to combat pneumonia; save nearly nine million children’s lives

    Built by a woman: supporting the dreams of mum entrepreneurs

    Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

    European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

    Inclusion, empowerment and equality, must be ‘at the heart of our efforts’ to ensure sustainable development, says UN chief

    Libya: €2 million in humanitarian assistance to cover basic needs

    Ditching plastic straws isn’t enough. Here’s how to achieve zero waste.

    Commission Work Programme 2019: Delivering on promises and preparing for the future

    COVID-19: A coordinated EU health strategy needed, say MEPs

    Turkey: Commission continues humanitarian support for refugees

    Do we need a new Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after COVID-19?

    European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

    FROM THE FIELD: Conversations about Conservation

    Monday’s Daily Brief: UN chief talks climate action at G7, WFP official visits camp in Central African Republic, Deadly violence at Lesvos migrant centre, Security Council meets on AU-UN Darfur mission

    Alice in Colombia

    Will the Greek economy ever come back to growth?

    ECB’s €1.14 trillion again unifies Eurozone; Germany approves sovereign debt risks to be pooled

    Alcoholic drinks: Commission tables update of rules governing alcohol excise duties

    Vaccination campaigns are wars against fake news

    “ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

    This is what’s happening to the Amazon, according to NASA

    3 reasons why data is not the new oil – and why this matters to India

    World’s Press Calls on the United Kingdom to Address Press Freedom Concerns

    Britain in and out of the EU

    State aid: Commission approves €2.9 billion public support by twelve Member States for a second pan-European research and innovation project along the entire battery value chain

    Dangerous Trumpism in the Middle East with an anti-European edge

    First seat projections for the next European Parliament

    European Business Summit 15th year: Controversy and Constructive Ideas

    3 cognitive biases perpetuating racism at work – and how to overcome them

    President Michel’s MFF proposal not acceptable for Parliament

    Why Sweden’s cashless society is no longer a utopia

    Brexit: reciprocal visa-free access for EU and UK nationals

    China-EU Trade and Economic Relations in Numbers

    Britain declares trade war on mainland Europe

    How governments can redesign support for entrepreneurs after COVID-19

    Ozone on track to heal completely in our lifetime, UN environment agency declares on World Day.

    5 milestones in green energy

    Mergers: Commission prohibits proposed merger between Tata Steel and ThyssenKrupp

    After swallowing effortlessly the right to be forgotten time for Google Ads now to behave

    New Zealand can improve well-being through better policymaking and reforms to housing and migration policy

    More Stings?

    Speak your Mind Here

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google photo

    You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s