A new poll of 17,000 people in 17 countries found that the majority believe the coronavirus pandemic has delayed progress on equal rights.
Seven in 10 workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic are women, but women are excluded from many COVID-19 response and recovery plans, according to a global survey released Thursday.
The survey, conducted by New York-based women’s rights group Women Deliver and Paris-based research organization Focus 2030, gathered the views of 17,000 men and women in 17 countries.
Most wanted women to have more say and feared the pandemic had delayed progress on equal rights.
“People around the world recognize that gender equality is a matter of our time and that it is an issue that has been [made] more urgent by COVID-19, ”said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of UN Women, during a virtual launch.
Eight in 10 respondents said women should be involved in the COVID-19 health response and recovery efforts at all levels, including developing policies and treatments.
Yet while women make up 70% of frontline workers, including in teaching and healthcare roles, the global response to the coronavirus crisis has largely failed to include women, the researchers found.
The poll cited research showing that in 30 countries, women make up only a quarter of decision-makers on COVID-19 response panels tasked with determining how to handle the health emergency and its economic fallout.
Only 20 percent of the members of the World Health Organization’s emergency committee are women, he said, although “preliminary evidence” has revealed that response efforts work best when women are involved.
Research by the World Bank and the United Nations shows that the fallout from the pandemic is weighing on women in many ways, such as increasing levels of domestic violence or declining incomes, with some women being forced to reduce their work. paid for doing household chores.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said the long-term fallout is worrying.
“We know COVID-19 threatens to roll back even the small and hard-earned gains that women have made,” she said.
According to the UN, 47 million more women worldwide will fall into extreme poverty – living on less than $ 1.90 a day – by 2021 because they are overrepresented in hard-hit sectors, such as domestic workers and restaurateurs.
“We must demand [that] relief measures target women and girls, ”Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
Eight in 10 respondents, including men, think improving women’s rights is a priority, with the figure rising to 90% and more in Kenya, Mexico, Colombia, South Africa and India.
Three in five respondents said tackling gender equality is key to ending poverty and want their governments to do more.
The top priority for respondents is to tackle gender-based violence, including online harassment, sexual assault, forced and early marriage, and female genital mutilation.
Survey respondents identified three main drivers of inequality: an unequal distribution of unpaid care, different job opportunities, and the role of religion and culture.
“This survey shows us where the world has failed, but it also provides encouraging news that the vast majority of women and men around the world expect their leaders to act to advance gender equality,” Divya Mathew, senior director of policy and advocacy at Women Deliver, said in a statement.