Let’s focus on gender equality, women’s leadership

Recently, we commemorated International Women’s Day under the theme; Gender equality today for a sustainable future. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 5) to be achieved by 2030.

While women constitute the majority of the world’s population, with the potential to create impact, existing gender disparities continue to cripple progress.

Worse still, when crises occur, women and girls suffer disproportionately from increased insecurity, increased burden of care (often unpaid), gender-based violence, limited access to protection and care health, including sexual and reproductive health services.

New and protracted humanitarian crises, the climate emergency and Covid-19 have only exacerbated gender inequalities and should therefore make our attention to women and girls even more critical.

According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, up to 10 million girls will be at risk of child marriage over the next decade due to Covid-19. Data from sources such as CARE’s Women Respond initiative (Rapid Gender Analysis on the impact of Covid 19) shows that Covid-19 has widened and deepened existing systemic inequalities and had a devastating impact on multiple dimensions of lives of women and girls; from their right to work and learn to their right to be free from violence.

Women lost their livelihoods at 1.8 times the rate of men during the pandemic because the majority, for example in Uganda, are in the informal sector and had to take on additional care responsibilities.

Women have also been largely absent from decision-making regarding the pandemic, despite being the majority of frontline health workers.

As we champion and promote gender equality, the empowerment and leadership of women and girls is essential. Women and girls are best placed to design responses to the issues they face in crises, yet they remain excluded from local, national, regional and global decision-making spaces where critical policies, budgets and priorities are discussed and agreed.

To ensure a just response and recovery from the pandemic, we call on governments, donors, and humanitarian and development actors to integrate a focus on gender equality and women’s leadership into recovery policies and funding. of Covid-19. This includes putting in place comprehensive gender strategies, collecting and using data disaggregated by sex, age and disability; and the implementation of gender impact assessments.

We must promote the agency of women and girls to act for change, to tackle unequal gender relations, especially in decision-making, to achieve deep structural change through the implementation of policies and gender equality practices.

The 66th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, whose priority theme this year is gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, the environment and disaster risk reduction, provides an opportunity to advocate for just and gender-transformative climate change, policies and actions.

We need different actors to actively facilitate and strengthen the direct, substantial and meaningful participation and leadership of diverse groups of women and girls in humanitarian and development policy, coordination and decision-making spaces at local levels, national and global.

Ms. Norah Namono, Communications Coordinator,

CARE International in Uganda

Mara R. Wilmoth