Women on the frontline of Covid-19
Women are at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their lives to save others. Yet, this crisis has shown that the decision-making bodies, including those established specifically to manage the pandemic, do not reflect a gender balance between women and men. Today women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce and deliver care to around 5 billion people. Nevertheless, they remain largely segregated into lower-status and lower-paid jobs and are still under-represented in leadership and decision-making processes. 70% of executive directors of global health organizations are men and only 5% are women in low- and middle-income countries. Additionally, women health workers are regularly subjected to discrimination, abuse and harassment, a situation that has worsened with COVID-19.
Women also play a key role at every level of the food industry, where there is a strong gendered vertical division of labour. Most women occupy low-revenue jobs while men work on higher paid management jobs. And with shuttered schools, even with both parents working from home, it is the women who are dealing with their children’s care, education and house chores, in parallel with their other paid job.
However, it is these low paid and stigmatised unskilled jobs that succeed to glue together our societies during the pandemic. If only one lesson should be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it would be that women are crucial to quench the world’s population vital needs: health, food security and caring. That is why women’s organizations on the frontline of the response should be represented in decision-making bodies.
- How can we ensure women’s leadership and equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision-making, in health, care services and economy at large?
- What can be done to bring about transformative change for equality to address issues of paid and unpaid care?
- What policy actions are needed to better value the role and leadership of women in health, care and food and retail sectors?