G7 need to Crack the Crises – we can’t let COVID roll back gender equality by a generation
Katherine Nightingale, Head of Advocacy and Policy at CARE INTERNATIONAL UK explains:
Like an earthquake exposing a fault line, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and reinforced deep structural inequalities, here in the UK and around the world. While these upheavals are affecting everyone, marginalised women and girls bear a disproportionate brunt of the crisis.
COVID-19 has impacted the lives of women and girls not just as a health emergency but also as a crisis that has pulled them out of school, increased their already inequitable unpaid care and domestic workload, exposed them to more abuse or stopped their employment altogether, often over night and without any safety nets to fall upon. Women who already face discrimination, women of colour and disabled women for instance, have felt the biggest impacts.
The pandemic and its repercussions are impacting marginalised women and girls disproportionately
Evidence shows that without urgent investment and action, COVID will reverse development progress by a quarter of a century, and push an additional 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty by the end of this year. The pandemic will add another 36 years to closing the gender gap.
We cannot, must not, let this happen if we want to call ourselves visionaries for a just and better post-pandemic world.
The G7 leaders will meet on the 11-13 June. This is our chance to demand they take action! That’s why we’re building a big campaign to convince Boris Johnson that his plans for the G7 must tackle gender inequality, too.
CARE, Action Aid, Plan International and organisations focussing on women’s rights and gender justice in the UK are calling on G7 leaders to shift the dial for gender justice once and for all. We are urging Boris Johnson and the G7 to not let COVID-19 roll back gender equality by a generation. Join us to ask G7 leaders to act for women and girls.
Boris Johnson and the G7 need to ensure a focus on women and girls throughout the COVID response and policy proposals to stop a roll back on gender equality by a generation. Specifically the G7 should:
1. Tackle violence against women and girls
On average, 1 in 3 women globally experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, usually from an intimate partner. This has increased further over the course of the pandemic, particularly for women already facing discrimination. In the workplace, too, violence and harassment is widespread and persistent. The G7 has a crucial role to shift the dial on both, violence against women and girls, and gender-based violence in the workplace. The G7 should ratify, implement and finance the ILO Convention 190 against violence and harassment in the workplace. It should also prioritise and increase spending to tackle violence against women and girls, both nationally and as part of development and humanitarian assistance. In doing so, it should value and promote the expertise of women and girls by ensuring that VAWG programmes are informed and led by women’s rights organisations and girl-led groups. Aid, including humanitarian aid, that reaches these vital organisations should be increased.
2. Tackle inequity in unpaid care
Even before COVID-19, women and girls performed 3 times as much care and domestic work than men and boys, often unpaid. Over the course of the pandemic this has increased by a further 30-40%, as they have been caring for sick family members, children out of school and the elderly. The G7 have the unique chance to tackle inequity in unpaid care by investing in care and social services, while fostering the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work. Providing childcare will free up parents’ time; ensuring equitable health care, education and community infrastructure will provide the public services that women and girls often step in to fill the gap for. The G7 should commit to investing at least 2% of domestic national income in the care economy, including for childcare, care for elderly people, care for people with disabilities; and commit to providing increased public funding to ensure universal access to health care, quality education and social protection while promoting decent work by ensuring care workers are paid living wages.
3. Support women and girls' leadership
Women make up 70% of the global health workforce, playing a crucial role in the COVID-19 response. But they are not equally at the decision-making table for pandemic responses, making up on average just 24% of national COVID-19 taskforce members. Women’s rights and women-led organisations are often best placed to respond to humanitarian emergencies in their communities, however, they remain undervalued and under-resourced. The G7 should tackle the structural and intersectional barriers to diverse women’s equal representation and leadership in public life, and commit to increasing funding for women’s rights and women-led organisations.
4. Stop harmful aid cuts
UK Aid cuts, and the way they are being implemented, will have wide-ranging and long-standing impacts on the world’s poorest people – in particular, women and girls. An estimated 20 million fewer women and girls will be reached by UK Aid between 2019 and 2022 compared to 2015 to 2018. Programmes that would have supported women and girls to get an education, access family planning, receive training for jobs and to have a voice in their community have been cut. The UK Government should stop and reverse cuts to UK Aid, and return to spending 0.7% of GNI as soon as possible.
With world leaders making huge decisions right now, the next few weeks could impact the lives of women and girls all around the world for decades to come. Can you sign the petition and convince Boris Johnson to do the right thing?
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