Let’s focus on gender equality,  women leadership

Norah Namono 

What you need to know:

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

Recently, we commemorated International Women’s Day under the theme; Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG five) to be achieved by 2030.

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

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

New and protracted humanitarian crises, the climate emergency, and Covid-19 have only exacerbated gender inequality and thus should make our focus on 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 because of 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 has had devastating impact across multiple dimensions of women and girls’ lives; from their right to work and learn, to their right to be free from violence. 

Women have 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 caring responsibilities.

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

As we advocate and promote gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls and their leadership is essential. Women and girls are best placed to design responses to the issues they face in crises, but 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 gender-just response and recovery from the pandemic, we call on governments, donors and development and humanitarian actors to integrate a focus on gender equality and women’s leadership throughout Covid-19 recovery policies and financing. This includes putting in place comprehensive gender strategies, collecting and using sex-age-disability-disaggregated data; and implementing impact assessments on gender equality.

We need to promote the agency of women and girls to take action for change, address unequal gender relations particularly in decision-making to achieve deep structural change through the implementation of gender equal policies and 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, environmental and disaster risk reduction, offers an opportunity to advocate for inclusive, just and gender-transformative climate-relevant 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, national and global levels.

Ms Norah Namono, communications coordinator,

CARE International in Uganda