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World Bank Report Says Pandemic Has Had A Detrimental Impact On Women And Global Gender Equality. Why Are We Not Surprised?

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There was a time before COVID 19 when the world was taking small, baby steps, towards gender equality. Even though we were nowhere close, at least we were headed in the right direction. However, the pandemic has washed away all our efforts and left women in a vulnerable condition. The detrimental impact that the pandemic has had on the condition of women all around the world is alarming. It’s worse today than ever before. Women’s rights, health, safety and even economic security are all in jeopardy. This isn’t just our opinion, even a World Bank report found that women have been deeply affected by the pandemic, leaving them furthermore endangered and with even lesser economic opportunities. Why are we not surprised?

The World Bank’s latest “Women, Business and the Law” report for 2021 found that the pandemic has created newer problems and challenges for women all around the world. It found that on average, women have just three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. Not to mention, cases of violence against women are at an all-time high and women continue to face laws and regulations that limit their economic opportunities. Basically, not only did the pandemic not do anything to close the gender gap, it made it much, much wider.

Women, Business and the Law 2021 measure the laws and regulations across eight areas that affect women’s economic opportunities in 190 countries. From basic movement in the country to the challenges of working, parenting and retiring this report provides benchmarks to calculate and compare the global progress toward gender equality. According to a CNBC report, it also focuses on how the pandemic has affected the “women at work and at home, focusing on childcare, access to justice, and health and safety.​”

The report reads, “Women were already at a disadvantage before the pandemic, and government initiatives to buffer some of its effects, while innovative, have been limited in many countries.”

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This report also finds that governments of some countries have put initiatives in place to easy out some of the pandemic’s impacts on working women. For instance, numerous countries that were surveyed for this report legally guaranteed employed parents any time off for childcare before the pandemic. But since the closure of schools, an additional 40 countries have introduced leaves for parents to help them with childcare. However, these measures aren’t enough. Working mothers still face multiple challenges on a daily basis.

Talking about all the ill-effects this pandemic has had on the women in every sphere, David Malpass, World Bank Group President said, “Women need to be fully included in economies in order to achieve better development outcomes. Despite progress in many countries, there have been troubling reversals in a few, including restricting women’s travel without the permission of a male guardian.”

He further added, “This pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities that disadvantage girls and women, including barriers to attend school and maintain jobs. Women are also facing a rise in domestic violence and health and safety challenges. Women should have the same access to finance and the same rights to inheritance as men and must be at the centre of our efforts toward an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Why are we not surprised that this pandemic has thrown us back 10 steps in our journey towards global gender equality? The damages done are clearly long-lasting but hopefully, we can get back on track sooner rather than later. Global gender equality is a cause that affects every single person in the world and it needs to be prioritized.

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