Gender Equality During COVID-19: 3 actions to tackle it
The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has been felt in every corner of the world, by people from all walks of life, as well as different sectors and governments. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge for gender equality, the public health crisis has been devastating drastically women and girls’ lives. Mckinsey research reveals that the faster policymakers and business leaders act to push for greater gender equality, even as the COVID-19 crisis continues, the bigger are the benefits to enhance gender equality and economic growth.
To illustrate, gender equality has never been so discussed on the EU's political agenda, and the Commission has made significant efforts to implement the Gender Equality Strategy, adopted one year ago. Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, mentions: “Women are at the frontline of the pandemic, and they are more affected by it. We can't afford sliding back; we must continue to push for fairness and equality.” The institution also revealed that women had more difficulties re-entering the labour market during the partial recovery last summer 2020 with employment rates rising by 1.4% for men but only by 0.8% for women between the second and the third quarter 2020. To track the progress of the key objectives of the Strategy and evaluate the performance of the 27 Member States, the Commission launched a Gender Equality Strategy Monitoring Portal.
Due to pandemic restrictions, women have taken on the bulk of childcare and a vast household list, forcing some to cut working hours or leave the workforce entirely. Despite this, the outbreak has further exposed the prevalence of domestic violence, which has seen an increase as confinement measures continue to be imposed. Correspondingly, Ibec, a group that represents Irish businesses, released a new study that highlights the impact that COVID-19 has had on the working lives of women in business in Ireland.
The Ibec survey carried out in March, found that the crisis has the potential to regress hard-earned progress in gender equity and reveals that ‘’20% of organisations had noticed a change in the position of women in their organisations over the past 12 months, citing changes such as increased pressure and stress for women, childcare responsibilities, and requests from women for worktime flexibility to accommodate childcare and/or eldercare’’.
Policymakers, business leaders and families need to work together against gender equality regress and to address these inequalities — there are so many actions to be taken to fight for and be part of this change, but here are 3 steps:
1. Maintaining education and health services and systems
Ensure quality education and health services for women and girls, prioritizing education for youths already facing significant risk of school-drop out, which could contribute to increased teenage pregnancies and sexual exploitation and abuse.
2. Creating flexible and part-time programs
Enable women's participation in the workplace through flexible work arrangements, supporting workers experiencing increased childcare and other revealed issues they might face.
3. Allowing more women into leadership and management
Set targets for the number of women in leadership in both government and business as well as attracting and developing roles for them.
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