The writer is the Executive Director and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact
“The road to economic recovery it should not be over the backs of women, ”Say three counties in the state of Hawaii that have approved a a feminist plan of economic recovery for Covid-19 – the first for America and the world.
The Hawaiian plan promises to correct what most governments have chosen to ignore: that this pandemic is much more severe for women than for men. The virus has revealed gender errors in a number of ways. Women are 1.8 times more likely than men to lose their jobs or livelihoods during the crisis. Their unpaid work, including caring for children and elderly family members, increased dramatically during the lockdown. Reports of domestic violence are on the rise. And women are at greater risk of being exposed to the virus: they do 70 percent of the world’s health workers, as well as most teachers, cleaners, shopkeepers, clothing workers and market vendors.
Philanthropist Melinda Gates puts the price of gender inequality at billions of dollars and encourages governments to address this impact. “While policymakers work to protect and rebuild economies, their response must take into account the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women,” she argues.
Some countries have introduced gender-specific policies to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. In West Africa, many governments gave up utility bills during the first months of the crisis, when strict blockades prevented families, but especially female heads of households, from working. Canada established $ 100 million ($ 80 million) last month Feminist Fund for Response and Recovery fund projects dealing with domestic violence, promote women’s economic security and prepare them for leadership roles. Argentina plans to spend 3.4 percent of its gross domestic product in its first “Gender Responsible” public spending program.
Such policies should become the norm, not the exception. The feminist recovery plan directs public spending and policies to support women and families. In Hawaii, this means adopting a universal basic income, free universal child care and long-term care for the elderly, along with fair wages for those in the sector. The state will prioritize the needs of women in allocating federal grants to invest in new child care, education, and health facilities.
Even before the pandemic, progress toward gender equality was unacceptably slow. According to the World Economic Forum 2020 Report on gender differences, will need 257 years to achieve economic gender parity. The real concern now is that the global gender gap is widening. Gender discrimination is often hidden in the small print. For example, women-owned enterprises tend to be smaller than men, making them unacceptable for government procurement schemes. This could be addressed by ensuring that business owners receive at least 30 percent of all recovery and rescue funds.
Businesses need to play a more active role in eliminating gender discrimination. In the decade since UN Women and the UN Global Compact launched the Principles for the Empowerment of Women, more than 4,000 CEOs they pledged to promote gender equality. But significant progress will not come without measurable goals to reduce the gender gap at work.
The goal of the UN Global Compact Gender Equality Initiative has helped more than 300 companies from 19 countries set and meet ambitious goals for the representation and leadership of women. This year we are expanding the initiative to 45 countries and live event On March 16, it will explore how the private sector can be mobilized to support equal representation and leadership of women.
Companies can also help by promoting shared responsibilities in the household and care through equal parental leave, a crèche in the workplace and flexible working. Many have already recognized the additional burden of caring for employed women during a pandemic and taken steps to adjust the workload. Perhaps the experience of working remotely will lead to more flexible arrangements for all employees.
Companies that claim to empower women and girls should explain how this relates to their broader business strategy. They should also explain their goals and how they will monitor accountability. Finally, their leadership and board of directors should reflect this commitment.
This is important because gender equality is a matter for everyone. We all benefit when women have equal access to education, work, credit, promotion and government funding. To build ourselves better, we need to do this in a more gender-inclusive way and try to create a world where the value of men and women counts equally.