SARAJEVO, April 2 (FENA) – The Executive Director of UN Women, the UN agency on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, drew attention to the high vulnerability of women in the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19.
She urged world governments to take a gender perspective into account when planning crisis response and enable strategies to strengthen women’s resilience in situations where they are repeatedly affected by the negative effects of the pandemic, UN Women BiH said.
It is stated that globally, 70 percent of women work in the health and social sectors, which is why they are repeatedly exposed to the infection and the negative effects of the pandemic.
“This pandemic is a great shock to our societies and economy, but it also reveals the weaknesses of our business and private relationships that only function when women have multiple and unpaid roles in them,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
In addition to the fact that women are working from home in the newly emerged situation, they still also take care of children and elderly members of the household, but also of the household itself, performing up to three times more unpaid domestic work than men, the statement said.
She added that given the prescribed measures of self-isolation and quarantine, the risk of domestic violence is increasing in households. Also, women still often work in the gray economy, and in times of crisis, they are among the first to lose their jobs.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka points out that “strategies are needed that will mitigate the crisis and take into account the health and economic impact of the pandemic on women and strengthen their resilience in crisis situations.”
She added that it is imperative that women’s needs be embedded in the creation of recovery strategies, that their voice is clearly heard in decision-making, that they are among the first to be assisted, and that they are part of creation of long-term solutions.
Globally, women make up 70 percent of frontline workers in the health and social sector, like nurses, midwives, cleaners and laundry workers. We need mitigation strategies that specifically target both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on women and that support and build women’s resilience, as we saw in Liberia and elsewhere. And to make those responses as well designed as possible, women should be fully engaged in their creation, be priority recipients of aid, and partners in building the longer-term solutions.
We are learning more every day from the arc of the pandemic in China. We have been working closely there with country leadership as part of the UN collective response. Joint campaigns have reached 1 billion people, with communications that raise awareness through public health information, combat stigma and discrimination, reflect women’s specific needs, promote women’s leadership and contributions and develop recovery plans that link equality, health and the economy.
“I ask the governments, as well as all providers, including the private sector, to take this opportunity to plan their response to COVID-19, and to fully take into account the gender perspective by including gender experts in the process; to provide space for women in all spheres of decision-making,” Mlambo-Ngcuka stated.
For example, she added, there is a need to secure housing for women leaving abusive relationships and create economic measures to help women-dominated industries.
“Gender-specific aggregated data should also be collected to make the impact of the pandemic on men and women as clear as possible, including different infection rates, economic consequences, the disproportionate burden in the care work, and cases of domestic violence and sexual violence. This is the moment when we need to recognize the power of solidarity. This is an opportunity to build a better, stronger, more resilient and more equal society,” it is said in the statement.