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“Pandemic deepens existing inequalities”

The UN Secretary-General has introduced the Policy Brief, which analyzes the risks of gender inequality in the context of the pandemic and is aimed at policy makers.


“The 25th anniversary of the Beijing Action Plan for 2020 is expected to become a cornerstone for gender equality. Instead, limited success due to the spread of coronavirus, even in recent decades, may be reversed. The co-chair deepens the existing inequalities, revealing the vulnerabilities of social, political and economic systems, which in turn reinforce the impact of the co-operation, ”the UN Secretary-General said in a statement.


The authors of the report emphasize that in all areas, from healthcare to the economy, from security to social security, the effects of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women due to gender-based discrimination.


Regarding economic repercussions, it is noted that they differ from men’s in the case of women, as women, being more involved in the informal sector of the economy, are unable to enjoy social protection. The situation is worse in developing countries, where 70 percent of women are informal workers. Many women are the only parents in the household, the head of the family, and the loss of work has a particularly painful effect on such families.


The Ebola epidemic has shown that quarantine has a significant effect on women’s economic and living conditions, increasing poverty and causing food shortages. The solution to the problem is to reduce gender in addition to education, and to expand the presence of women in the labor market.


In the field of healthcare, it is noted that 70% of the employees of the system are women, and these days they are fighting on the front lines. Women are doctors, nurses, community health workers, midwives, and cleaners. Despite these figures, they are often not represented in the COVID-19 global decision-making process.


The next task in this area is to define sexual and reproductive health services, including maternal health and gender-based violence services, which are key to women’s and girls’ health, rights and well-being. Inaccessibility or improper delivery of these services can lead to an increase in maternal mortality, exacerbation of diseases, pregnancy among adolescents, and an increase in HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Hence, the call to ensure the continuity of medical, neonatal care and support services for women victims of domestic violence in the context of the epidemic.


UN experts also call on governments to pay close attention to the role of health care workers on the front lines and their needs by providing them with protective and disinfectants.


The report on the care of family members states that this unpaid and invisible investment has a real impact on the economy. If before the pandemic women did three times more unpaid housework than men, the demand for care in the conditions of the pandemic is increasing, which deepens the gender inequality in the division of labor. According to UNESCO, 1.52 billion students, pupils and more than 60 million teachers are at home with the coronavirus because the schools are not working. As a rule, child care is placed on women’s shoulders not only by the structure of the labor market, but also by social norms. Here, too, experts emphasize the need for rapid and effective efforts and steps to increase women’s representation in the market. They are most needed in the hospital, food and tourism sectors, where women’s involvement is high.


Regarding domestic violence, it is noted that the number of cases is increasing during the days of the epidemic, the situation is becoming more complicated, as many support centers, services are not functioning or are partially functioning, the classrooms are full or closed. Law enforcement and health services often fail to provide adequate support, and civil society representatives are isolated. The report emphasizes the need for legal regulations that will define the rule of law in emergencies and help prevent gender-based violence. Among the basic and vital services, shelters for victims of domestic violence should also be considered, moreover, in such situations, shelter opportunities should be expanded using empty hotels and educational institutions.


In terms of humanitarian and development programs and initiatives, the epidemic can also have negative consequences. In particular, the suspension, cancellation and postponement of such programs can lead to serious problems in the areas of humanitarian assistance and human rights protection. In the same context, programs aimed at ensuring women’s participation in decision-making are being developed.


In the situation of pandemic the issue of gender is addressed in the recent document of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) “ COVID-19 and the economic consequences of gender inequality: Recommendations for Policy Makers” document. As for the governments of Latin American countries, it can, in general, serve as a guide to gender-sensitive approaches to the fight against the virus.


COVID-19 is a crisis that requires urgent response. In order to mitigate the socio-economic effects of the crisis on the spread of the epidemic, coordinated and integrated measures are needed in the field of healthcare and family care. In this regard, the role of women is emphasized, as it is women who are at the forefront of health and care response, helping victims in health care facilities, social services, ensuring the well-being of families, care and stability in households. Economic repercussions could have far-reaching effects and deepen existing inequalities, including gender inequality, ”the UNDP said in a statement.

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