Gender Equality

IN BRIEF

Across every sphere — from health to the economy, security to social protection — the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are disproportionately affecting women. The UN Secretary-General alerted the world that the crisis could even reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights in the past decades; however, the current crisis could also provide a rare chance to disrupt gender stereotypes, show that leadership and decision-making should be shared responsibilities and build back better and more gender-inclusive world.

KEY STATISTICS

  • 70 per cent of the healthcare workers risking their lives are women and infection rates among female health-care workers are up to 3 times higher than among their male counterparts.
  • Over a year since the beginning of the pandemic, still less than 1 in 5 of labour market and social protection measures enacted to tackle the COVID-19 crisis are gender sensitive. And according to our Target Gender Equality COVID-19 quiz, only 67% of companies have women actively informing their COVID-19 response and including them at the decision-making table.
  • Globally, female job loss rates resulting from COVID-19 are about 1.8 times higher than male job-loss rates. This translates into a higher unemployment rate for women at 5.7 percent, versus 3.1 percent for men. The global gender pay gap is stuck a 16% and will take 267 years to close, leaving women even more vulnerable to economic downturn.
  • Globally, even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, around one third of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner; and 18% have experienced such violence in the past 12 months.
  • Women already do 3 times more unpaid care work as men. And now, due to the pandemic’s disproportionate burden, women are now spending 15 hours more each week in unpaid labor than men.
  •  Workers in the informal economy lost as much as 60% of their income during the first month of the pandemic. About 740 million women work in the informal economy with few protections against dismissal and limited access to social protection.

CHALLENGES


ACTIONS

  • Ensure women's representation and inclusion in all planning and decision making, specifically with COVID related policies and responses, to lead to better ESG performance.
  • Provide flexible working arrangements, as well as paid sick, family and emergency leave for parents and caretakers, keeping in mind that the majority of unpaid care work falls to women.
  • Help address the unintended consequences of stay at home measures, including the alarming increase in domestic violence; for example, direct employees to needed services, including domestic violence hotlines.
  • Support employment and income protection for women across the value chain.
  • Honor existing contracts with women-owned businesses, support their recovery and engage them as supply chains are re-established.
  • Ensure access to quality healthcare for all women and girls, especially as resources are diverted to address the pandemic.
  • Collect data disaggregated by gender, age and other factors to track the impact of all response efforts. Of the papers and reports published around the time of the Zika and Ebola epidemics only less than 1% explored the gendered impact of the outbreaks.
  • Help challenge gender norms through marketing and advertising, encouraging unpaid care to be shared more equally.
  • CEOs and executive teams can publicly signal their commitment to advance gender equality, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, by signing the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles..

WHAT ARE COMPANIES
DOING?


  • Supporting women-owned businesses: Coca-Cola Foundation Mexico and Pro Mujer are providing direct financial support and an educational program to thousands of women entrepreneurs in Mexico who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Using the pandemic to disrupt and reset gender stereotypes and collecting data on gender: KPMG conducted a global survey that reflects an optimistic outlook held by female business leaders on the widespread awareness and cooperation stemming from COVID-19 to drive gender equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives moving forward.
  • Ensuring hygiene and healthcare as a key priority: Unilever has pledged €100 million of donations of personal hygiene and disinfectant products. This is especially important as women’s healthcare products can be harder to access at this time.
  • Continuing programmes to support women’s empowerment in business: SAP remains committed to its goal of having 30% women in management positions by 2022 and has continued their initiatives to support women in tech and women’s leadership within the company.
  • Creating programmes for women affected by the pandemic: Banco Santander created a programme focused on delivering online training and improving financial literacy, creating networking opportunities, providing financial assistance if needed and offering a credit card with special discounts to women economically impacted by the pandemic.
  • Protecting the most marginalized communities: In India, Oxfam has provided communities with with dry rations, cooked meals, safety and hygiene kits, and is setting up dignity kitchens as well as personal protection kits for frontline workers such as doctors, nurses, auxiliary medical staff, care givers and others.

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