'Emergency preparedness requires gender-aware responses to reduce violence against women'

New York, Jun 23 (IANS): Countries with greater women's leadership, universal social protection and care systems, and space for feminist organisations to participate in democratic decision-making are more effective at responding to crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic, said a new global report by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday.

As the overlapping impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, a deepening climate emergency and geopolitical conflicts threaten gender equality and women's rights, analysis based on new global data provides specific recommendations for governments to ensure their economic recovery and emergency preparedness strategies are gender responsive, integrated and resilient.

"Countries with stronger social protection systems and public services do better on gender equality and have correspondingly been better able to weather the storms of recent years. But the world remains in turmoil. We must build on the many policy innovations we have seen in every region during the pandemic and redouble our efforts to ensure that women are included in decision-making in crises," said UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.

"This report shows that when women lead, everyone benefits from a more inclusive and effective crisis response, and more resilient economies and societies, today and in the future."

Nearly 5,000 policies were examined over a two-year period by the UNDP-UN Women Covid-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, the most comprehensive global repository of gender-sensitive government responses to the pandemic.

The tool identifies how global decision-makers reacted to the pandemic's economic and social impacts, which continue to fall disproportionately on women.

In 196 of the 226 countries surveyed, at least one gender-sensitive measure was adopted, according to the new report, 'Government responses to COVID-19: Lessons on gender equality for a world in turmoil'.

Countries with higher proportions of women in elected office, irrespective of national income, adopted more policies and budgeting that integrated gender considerations.

Countries with strong democracies, powerful feminist movements or high shares of women in parliament adopted an average of five more gender-sensitive measures than countries without them.

Even in countries with less-than-equal representation, however, women political leaders demanded their voices be heard.

Fiji, for example, activated its existing crisis response mechanism to respond to natural disasters to adopt an historic 14 measures to mitigate the scourge of violence against women and girls during the pandemic.

The Women's Parliamentary Group in Tanzania championed gender-responsive public information campaigns and targeted public funds to women-specific initiatives.

Egypt's Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Said chaired a task force that aimed to identify how to reduce the impact of the pandemic on informal work, where women's employment is concentrated.

"Rebuilding women's economic security and ensuring their rights is a critical priority for governments and the United Nations, including UNDP," said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

"Responding to current and future crises requires action now to ensure that economies and societies are better prepared and more resilient in the future. This report shows what governments can achieve in their crisis response when they prioritise gender equality."

Ireland and Chile were among the countries where activists not only took to the streets to demand government action but also contributed feminist plans and gender budget assessments to legislative and executive discourse.



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Title: 'Emergency preparedness requires gender-aware responses to reduce violence against women'

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