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 in the workforce: Kimberly-Clark Professional donated $500,000 for a new scholarship programme to offer infectious disease prevention online training to cleaning professionals around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Helping women entrepreneurs: Banco Guayaquil is distributing micro-loans totaling $92 million to support small and medium enterprises with 50% of the total loan amount targeted towards women-owned businesses.
  • Sustaining women’s empowerment in times of crisis: Limak Group continues to promote their Engineer Girls of Turkey project during the COVID crisis and is expanding their application of the Gender Equality Seal Programme supported by the United Nations Development Programme within the Limak Group of Companies.
  • Aiding women’s economic and social needs during the pandemic: After the launch of their €150 million program, L’Oréal for the Future, L’Oréal allocated a €50 million fund to support organizations and charities serving vulnerable women affected by COVID-19 such as providing emergency assistance to disabled women.
  • Supporting women-focused charities: Scotiabank donated $200,000 to Canadian Women’s Foundation to financially support women-focused charities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the Building Women's Economic Security in the Pandemic Project.
  • Protecting the health and well-being of women: MAS Holdings increased their goal to provide information and services that address women’s health and well-being to 20,000 people by 2021 through its Women Go Beyond Program.

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