UN Presents Framework For Mitigating Covid19’s Impact On Women
UN Women has put forth a detailed framework to help governments mitigate the impact of the health, and subsequent socio-economic, crisis for women and girls, and to ensure that their well-being is considered in long-term recovery plans.
The new framework, titled UN Women’s Response to Covid19, identifies five priorities for governments to focus on in order to tackle the gender bias prompted by the pandemic: reduction of gender-based violence, including domestic violence; introduction of social protection and economic stimulus packages to serve women and girls; promoting practice of equal sharing of the burden of care and domestic work; increasing women’s participation in Covid19 response-planning and decision-making to ensure representation; and including gender perspectives in data and coordination mechanisms.
Earlier, UN Women had issued a Call For Action to governments and stakeholders to address the gender dimensions of the crisis. “I ask governments and all other service providers including the private sector to take this opportunity to plan their response to Covid19 as they have never done before, and fully take a gender perspective into account, proactively building gender expertise into response teams and embedding gender dimensions within response plans,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, had appealed.
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UN Women had also put forth a ten-point checklist to guide governments through a response with a strong gender equality focus, particularly in terms of the socio-economic impact of the crisis. The checklist encompasses a wide array of concerns, and ways to tackle them, like ensuring there are adequate shelters and hotlines for domestic violence, ensuring maternal-care for women, ensuring women’s rights to testing and healthcare are protected given that fewer women have health insurance as compared to men, and ensuring that girls don’t end up caring for younger siblings while boys continue to study due to the economic crisis, among other things.
Under the lockdown, cases of domestic violence against women are alarmingly off the charts, cybercrimes against women have spiked, women are facing disproportionate burdens of childcare and housework, and female workers are facing highly disproportionate numbers of job cuts as compared to their male counterparts. In addition, a survey across 30 countries found that 73 percent of women were facing restricted access to menstrual hygiene products due to shortages or disrupted supply chains under lockdown — in India, that number was 84 percent. In the meantime, the UNESCO has also warned that the closure of educational institutions due to Covid19 will impact women the most and increase their drop-out rates — leading to increased risks of sexual exploitation, early pregnancy and early and forced marriages.
“The year 2020 was intended to be ground-breaking for gender equality. Instead, with the spread of the Covid19 pandemic, even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back. Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of Covid19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex,” UN’s Policy Brief on the Impact of Covid19 on Women stated in April.
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