As the world adjusts to the impact of COVID-19, nations have implemented action plans to help mitigate the virus, however new research has demonstrated that this decision-making made by predominantly male national committees could worsen the gender equality gap.
According to data released by CARE Australia last month surveying 30 countries across the globe, it was revealed that 74 percent of the countries surveyed had a COVID-19 response committee of less than one-third female representation. On average across the countries surveyed, women made up just 24 percent of these committees.
The majority of essential service workers are women, meaning that they are more exposed to the virus in comparison to most men. Women are also more at-risk experiencing gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, as a result from lockdown measures implemented by state governments.
Without female leadership, COVID-19 responses will be less effective at meeting the needs of women and girls, as countries with lower levels of female leadership are at risk of creating response plans that do not consider the disproportionate impact. More than half of the countries surveyed have taken no action on gender-based violence, despite clear evidence of the impact of the crisis on this issue.
Almost 25 percent of the countries surveyed did not demonstrate any evidence of the government making funding policy commitments for gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health, nor women-specific economic assistance.
So, what does this mean for reaching gender equality and closing the gap? The CARE study revealed that the countries that have more women in leadership are more likely to deliver COVID-19 responses that consider the effects of the crisis on females.
Canada, revealed to have women represent 52 percent of their national-level committee, was the only country to have announced funding and policy commitments for gender-based violence prevention and response programs, as well as childcare support and funding that specifically recognises the economic effect of the pandemic on women.
Although Australia has announced childcare support and taken additional measures to prevent gender-based violence, it has not released funding to specifically target the ways COVID-19 has affected women financially nor taken further action on access to essential sexual reproductive health.
Story Source: “Where are the women?” 2020 Report by CARE Australia