More resources must be allocated to address gender discrimination in COVID-19 national response plans: UN roundtable

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UNITED NATIONS, May 12 (Xinhua) -- United Nations officials and gender equality experts attending a high-level roundtable said Tuesday that efforts must be made to allocate additional resources to address discrimination against women in COVID-19 national response plans.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is moving beyond a global health crisis and morphing into a labor market, social and economic crisis, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Head of European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments Hilde Hardeman, and International Labour Organization (ILO) Deputy Director-General for Policy Deborah Greenfield on Tuesday convened ministers, chief executives officials, and business associations, trade unions, civil society and academia representatives at the high-level roundtable, "The G7's role in ensuring women's economic empowerment and security in the post-COVID future."

Roundtable participants said that efforts must be made to "allocate additional resources to address discrimination and violence against women and girls in COVID-19 national response plans, including effective measures to reduce the risks of heightened levels of domestic violence."

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to women's employment and livelihoods as it deepens pre-existing inequalities, and exposes cracks in social, political and economic systems. From access to health services, social protection and digital technologies, to significant rise of domestic violence and unpaid care work, the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for many around the world, said a press release issued by UN Women.

"Women with caring responsibilities, informal workers, low-income families and youth are among the hardest hit," it said.

Globally, women represent 55.8 percent of employees in service industries, while in the Group of Seven (G7), women make up around 88 percent of the service industry workforce. Nearly 60 percent of women around the world work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty. Most are unable to work remotely and may require additional care support for children or older family members as they leave their homes to work.

This pandemic has brought to light the collective reliance on public social safety nets in a time of crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has also made starkly visible the fact that the world's formal economies and the maintenance of our daily lives are built on the invisible and unpaid labor of women and girls. Along with governments, the private sector and workers' representatives have a key role to play in establishing an equitable and gender-responsive future of work, now increasingly reliant on digital technology, and built on social, environmental and economic justice," said the press release.

Roundtable participants put forth recommendations for G7 member states to foster resilient and regenerative societies and economies and build the world we want post-pandemic. It is important for G7 countries to work in solidarity through global coordination with all stakeholders, and to prioritize gender equality and women's economic empowerment in their COVID-19 crisis response and recovery.

Among the 10 proposed key actions for G7 member states to promote gender equality and women's economic empowerment in COVID-19 crisis response and recovery are designing and implementing gender-responsive crisis responses with long-term solutions, expanding and investing in universal gender-responsive social protection, mitigating the pandemic's impact on enterprises and employment, providing health care and other front-line workers with occupational safety and health equipment and allocating additional resources to address discrimination and violence against women and girls in COVID-19 national response plans.

A more detailed call to action will be made available in advance of the virtual G7 Leader's Summit taking place from June 10 to 12, the press release said. Enditem

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