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9.1% Women And Girls Are Going To Get Poorer In 2021 Due To The Pandemic, According To The UN. Let That Sink In

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The global pandemic has disrupted our lives like no one could have guessed. I am not just talking about the unavoidable health risk and our social life that’s been indefinitely shelved, but also the financial aspect of it, which is worse than the other two, to be honest, especially for the population who were already struggling to make the ends meet. Now after the Covid outbreak, the poverty rate is estimated to shoot up, which was earlier expected to rise.

Since many people have lost their jobs, businesses have suffered and markets are literally shut due to the lockdown, it is projected that the pandemic will push some 96 million people into extreme poverty in the next year, out of which 47 million are women and girls. You know what this means? The poverty rate of women and girls who already have it bad will be pushed to the brink. It will further widen the gap between men and women who live in poverty in the near future, undoing the decades of efforts to bring the population above poverty line.

According to the new date released by the United Nations, the global crisis will lead to 47 million women and girls living in extreme poverty. The UN agencies report titled, ‘From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of Covid-19’, “Pandemic will push 96 million people into extreme poverty by 2021, 47 million of whom are women and girls. This will increase the total number of women and girls living in extreme poverty to 435 million, with projections showing that this number will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.”

The report says, “Significantly more women than men in South Asia will be affected. In the 25-34 age group, there will be 118 poor women for every 100 poor men in that region, and that ratio will increase to 129 women for every 100 men by 2030.” Now, the question here is when both men and women are equally affected financially by the pandemic, how come the poverty gap is widening between the both gender? The thing is, more women than men are unemployed and even if they are, they are paid much less than their male counterparts. And I am talking about small jobs with nominal pay here because these are the people below poverty line.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women executive director said, “The increases in women’s extreme poverty are a stark indictment of deep flaws in the ways we have constructed our societies and economies.” She further added, “We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs in fact, overall, women’s employment is 19% more at risk than men’s.”

Also, according to the report, the poverty rate for women was actually expected to decline by 27% which is now projected to rise by 9.1%. This simply reverses all the efforts made to pulling women and girls above poverty in the recent past. UN chief recently warned that the socio-economic growth of women globally is also likely to be stalled because of the current situation. These aspects are interrelated to each other and crux of the situation is that this epidemic is proving to be more than just life-threatening. It’s not just about surviving now; it is about surviving financially as well. And, it is not going to be a cake walk, especially for the women and girls, who never actually had it easy when it came to have a strong financial standing.

Also Read: Covid-19 Could Hamper Decades Of Progress For Women Globally, Said UN Chief. Protection Of Women’s Rights Needs To Be A Priority

The report also throws light on the nations where the economic condition of women is especially horrible and the impact of the pandemic is going to be drastic. It mentions that the pandemic will push an additional 54 million and 24 million people below poverty line in Central and Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, which already constitutes around 87% of people living in extreme poverty worldwide.

The government of these nations need to build and implement strategies to protect the financial security of women and girls by making education, healthcare, fair employment opportunities accessible post-pandemic. Achim Steiner, the UNDP administrator suggests, “More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers.”

It is obvious that women’s economic empowerment has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Women are underpaid, undervalued and oppressed which is the reason they comprise of majority of the population that is living in poverty. Although the situation wasn’t any better before, the leaders and organisations like the UN have been working towards making a societal change and bettering the social, economical and political status of women and girls. After the pandemic too, with the right strategies and measures to bridge the gender gap and by protecting the rights of vulnerable and underprivileged women can help countries cope up with the situation and keep their woman and therefore economies from absolute collapse. As the report estimates, “It would take only 0.14% of the global Gross Domestic Product ($2 trillion or over Rs 1.4 lakh crore) to lift the world out of extreme poverty by 2030.” So, here’s hoping.

Also Read: Women Are More Likely To Lose Their Jobs During This Pandemic And Will Probably Not Get Rehired Due To Gender Biases. It’s Going To Be Tough For Us

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