Building Back Better: Women’s Economic Empowerment During Covid-19 and Beyond
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock to societies and economies everywhere, exposing the important role women play both on the frontlines and at home, as well as the structural inequalities they and others face.
Though this is the case, many healthcare services and sector-related training are not available to all in an equitable manner around the world – this negatively impacts both individuals and countries’ overall response to the pandemic. Therefore, developing quality health systems that are affordable and accessible to all should be the primary objective for all governments. One of the greatest, but most overlooked, solutions to solve these challenges is the empowerment of women.
Among the recommendations directed towards governments and policymakers for ensuring the involvement of women within health processes, the following could be mentioned:
• Women’s inclusion in COVID-19 recovery taskforces around the world, and at every stage of policy decision-making process both in government and in the private sector
• Investing in accessible, affordable quality healthcare for all: States must implement universal, publicly financed health systems that cover their entire population – not only for COVID-19 services but for all essential services.
• Support the development of women-owned businesses in all countries within the healthcare sector
The achievement of women’s empowerment requires nations to invest in their social infrastructure, from education to healthcare, allowing for an increase in employment, earnings, economic growth, and gender equality. Such investments would chip away at some of the barriers that have hindered women’s full participation in economic activity, consequently incentivizing a faster socio-economic recovery from the pandemic.
Conflicts, Migration and Covid-19 in the MENA Region: What Role for Women in Peacebuilding?
2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace and Security, which puts women at the forefront of global peace and security efforts. This year, women in peacekeeping and different leadership positions are playing an essential role in containing and preventing the spread of Covid-19 in their communities and countries. Nevertheless, women still make up only 17% of mediators and 13% of negotiators worldwide. Women are also underrepresented in positions of political leadership: today there are only 21 female Heads of State and Government, and only 14 countries have a national cabinet where women account for at least 50% of members. The exclusion of women from conflict prevention and efforts to promote global security is even more tangible in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Ongoing political violence and instability have often led tensions in the MENA region to erupt in all-out military conflicts, as in Syria and Yemen. Hostilities have led to large-scale migrations, both within countries and across borders. Of the approximately 80 million forcibly displaced people across the world, the largest number on record, 19% come from the MENA region, including 2.7 million refugees and 10.3 million internally displaced people. The vulnerability of these individuals has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially the case for female migrants, who are often disproportionately exposed to the consequences of crises.
In this complex scenario, women, especially female migrant networks, are the invisible drivers of peace and stability. They play a fundamental role in healing the wounds of conflict and weaving together the new fabric of a community, keeping it from tearing at the seams. Thus, due to the amplified vulnerability of those affected by conflict as a result of the pandemic, it is more important than ever before for women to be at the forefront of peacekeeping missions.
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