From: Alice Taylor
UN: 47 Million Women and Girls at Risk from Worsening Poverty due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting 47 million women and girls at risk of falling further into poverty, according to the United Nations.

UN Deputy General Amina Mohammed addressed a UN-Women roundtable this week drawing attention to the way in which the pandemic is exacerbating inequalities globally and increasing the numbers of those left behind. This, she said will have devastating impacts not just today, but on future generations.

She noted that in Albania, assistance was given to women-headed households, single parents, ethnic minorities, and other marginalized groups. In Serbia, cash payment schemes were rolled out for women and care workers in nursing homes had a 10% pay rise. But this is not enough.

Only 18% of the measures in the region provided assistance for women’s employment. Without this, she said, we will lose a generation of progress on women’s economic empowerment and inclusion.

“We must invest smartly and quickly in proven solutions.  Resources for women’s economic opportunities and the care economy could add $13 trillion to the global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Placing women at the center of the digital transformation could unleash the capacities of millions and catapult countries to the economy of the future,” she said.

Women and girls should also be recognized as crucial leaders of climate and environmental solutions and be supported as such.

This week, the UN also published technical guidance including five actions for gender equality in the COVID-19 response. These actions will ensure that gender equality is at the heart of COVID-19 service delivery while appreciating the public health, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic.

They are as follows:

  • Care for caregivers: Nurses, midwives, and community health workers which are almost exclusively women are at the forefront of the pandemic yet their roles are frequently overlooked and underpaid. Women and girls are also primary caregivers for sick relatives, children, and household chores. Support must be provided including childcare, health services and other social support for women and girls. Attention must also be given to family-friendly policies that protect employees, reduce stress and support improved child and family well-being.
  • Prepare for an increase in violence against women and girls: This kind of violence will continue increasing during the pandemic and all sectors of the community and the healthcare system need to be prepared.
  • Maintain core health and education systems: During pandemics, education and routine healthcare including maternal, child healthcare services, and the clinical management of rape are interrupted. Women ad girls living with HIV/AIDS are also vulnerable as their continuity of care is acutely compromised. This must be mitigated and long-term support must be given for education and health services to meet the needs of women and girls of all ages.
  • Engage women’s rights networks to support connectivity: As schools transition to remote learning, a structure of peers and mentos for young girls must be maintained. Via in-person and digital platforms, these networks should ensure the participation of women and girls in all decision-making processes and the sharing of key communications.
  • Ensuring data is available, analyzed and actionable: Sex, age, and disability data disaggregation, as well as other key indicators, must be prioritized in data collection. This will ensure better and more accurate public health, social, and economic outcomes.