Gender equality was always an issue and COVID-19 pandemic has only elevated the divide. The pandemic was “interrupting efforts to achieve equality” and threatening to “reverse hard-won gains over the past decades, the United Nations said.
Despite improvements in women’s life and changes in the attitude towards them in the last two decades, the UN believes that the progress towards equal power and equal rights for women remains elusive
“Women are far from having an equal voice to men. And, in every region of the world, women are still subjected to various forms of violence and harmful practices,” said UN economic and social affairs department (DESA) chief Liu Zhenmin while introducing 2020 edition of The World Home Trends and Statistics.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted that the progress towards equal power and equal rights for women remained elusive even though Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted Twenty-five years ago. Stating that no country has achieved gender equality, he said “to effectively measure progress in that regard, reliable, timely and disaggregated, data are critically needed and closing data gaps requires regular collection and use of gender statistics.”
Liu noticed that women also had less internet access and thus faced difficulties maintaining personal connections and carrying on day-to-day activities during lockdowns. Apart from this, the DESA chief said that several women might also have been trapped in unsafe environments and at risk of experiencing intimate partner violence. He also noted that women face reduced access to sexual and reproductive health services. As women spend more time in caring the elderly, sick and children, they are also at a higher risk of infection than men, the UN said.
World’s Women 2020 said that women held only 28 per cent of managerial positions globally in 2019. It also said that only 18 per cent of enterprises surveyed had a female Chief Executive Officer in 2020. Moreover only 7.4 per cent or 37 CEOs were women among Fortune 500 corporate rankings.
Apart from this, women also had less political life. Though their representations in parliaments across the world have doubled, it has yet to cross the five per cent barrier of seats. Though representation among cabinet ministers has quadrupled over the last 15 years, it remains at 22 per cent, well below parity, the UN said.
Liu called on the countries to “accelerate efforts” in empowering women and girls towards improving data gaps in covering key gender topics. “Timeliness and comparability of data over time and across countries, need to be improved, and data disaggregation and dissemination by age, sex, location and other key variables need to become a priority in order to fully measure and address intersecting inequalities, respond to crises, and ensure gender equality by 2030” he said.