Pandemic and Women: COVID Sets Gender Equality 36 Years Back, says WEF. What factors made it happen?
It is no denying that the pandemic has happened to be hard on Women, but less did we know that it will push back their growth by 36 years. The World Economic Forum has said that it will take an average of 136 years for women and men to reach level equality on a range of factors. It is shocking that the gender gap has grown by 36 years in just a space of 12 months, proving COVID as lethal for gender equality goals. The Global Gender Pay report 2020 by WEF itself, estimated the need of 100 years to close the gender pay gap. The 2021 report outlines that COVID sets gender equality 36 years back.
“The hardest-hit sectors by lockdowns and rapid digitalization are those where women are more frequently employed…Combined with the additional pressures of providing care in the home, the crisis has halted progress toward gender parity in several economies and industries”
The report is a result of data obtained and examined from 156 countries, and the methodology is the same as what is being used for the last 15 years looking at the four indicators: economic opportunity, political power, education, and health. The report also highlights –
– Closing the gender pay gap will take an extra 36 years
– 146 years to attain gender equality in politics
– 268 years for men and women to get the same salary for similar work
Factors that have been affected in the Pandemic, largely contributing to the widening of this gap –
According to the WEF survey, the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that 5% of all working women lost their employment during the pandemic, compared to 3.9 per cent of employed men. According to a survey by LinkedIn, there has also been a decrease in the hiring of women in senior roles. Women are heavily engaged in the consumer, retail, and hospitality industries, which have seen numerous closures, contributing to the increase in the economic gap. It has always been there that women are not paid as much as men, not they are jobless, eradicating the gender pay gap.
Politics and Leadership Positions
Worldwide, women hold only 26.1 per cent of parliamentary seats and 22.6 per cent of ministerial positions. The report suggests that it will take 146 years to attain gender equality in politics. “There is a decent shortage of women in leadership roles, with women accounting for just 27% of all management positions,” the WEF adds in the report.
With schools shifting online, with poor availability of gadgets and stigmas around women’s education, this gap was likely to widen. Though, as per the reports, Education and Health have not been as hit as other sections. Yet, it should be marked out that the UN body Unicef this year said that the pandemic jeopardized the education of 20 million girls worldwide. Gladly, the report suggests that 37 countries had reached educational gender parity.
Working women’s double shift scenario: Worklife and Caregiving duties
With the work from home schedules, additional pressure came upon women, that was of the household. “Women, including white-collar women who work from home, are now in a kind of double shift scenario,” the WEF chief notes. Women, when turned to homes, by default become responsible for caregiving duties at home, increasing their responsibilities and work pressure.
What shall be done?
Well, what goes without saying is the need of the hour, i.e. find out ways to close this gap. Recently, the UN Commission called for a sharp increase in women’s involvement in global decision-making after seeing this continuous pushback against women’s rights and a refusal to address issues of gender identity in the final draft of a controversial document. We need more effective decisions to make the effective closing of the gender gaps. And it is a noted fact that Gender Equality can’t be achieved without involving men in the picture. Hence, to close the gender gaps, effective involvement of men and women is required apart from the government and organizational level efforts.
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