Finding our way to an equal future in a COVID-19 world. From the book Social Camouflage. © J. Ashley Nixon
Today is International Women’s Day and the theme is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” After a year or more of dealing with the health, educational, social, and economic impacts of the COVID pandemic, the established control measures and introduction of vaccines are helping us to turn things around. There’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel but we are not out of it yet. Our recovery is contingent on the efforts of women and girls around the world. In our new future, released from the hold of the coronavirus, let’s celebrate their efforts, recognize gender equality and eliminate the gaps that remain.
The UN has identified those gaps and created a framework for action within its sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5: Gender Equality. UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence.
Here is what UN Women says:
Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.
Underrepresentation of women in public life
Women’s full and effective participation and leadership in all areas of life drives progress for everyone. Yet, women are still underrepresented in public life and decision-making, as revealed in the UN Secretary-General’s recent report. Women are Heads of State or Government in 22 countries, and only 24.9 percent of national parliamentarians are women. At the current rate of progress, gender equality among Heads of Government will take another 130 years.
Equal pay and opportunity
Women are also at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19, as front-line and health sector workers, as scientists, doctors and caregivers, yet they get paid 11 percent less globally than their male counterparts. An analysis of COVID-19 task teams from 87 countries found only 3.5 percent of them had gender parity.
When women lead, we see positive results. Some of the most efficient and exemplary responses to the COVID-19 pandemic were led by women. And women, especially young women, are at the forefront of diverse and inclusive movements online and on the streets for social justice, climate change and equality in all parts of the world. Yet, women under 30 are less than one percent of parliamentarians worldwide.