New U.N. tracker shows which governments prioritize gender in covid-19 responses

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The UN Security Council holds a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, in this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 file photo, at United Nations headquarters. The coronavirus that has claimed nearly 1 million lives has underscored the failure of the United Nations to bring countries together to defeat it. “We could criticize the U.N. for this — but who are we really talking about, when we blame `the U.N.?'” Switzerland President Simonetta Sommaruga asked. “We are in fact talking about ourselves, because the U.N. is its member states. And it is often member states that stand in the way of the U.N.’s work.”(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Wondering how governments around the world have — or have not — included gender-based policies in their novel coronavirus responses?

On Tuesday, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and U.N. Women published a “Covid-19 Global Gender Response Tracker” that monitors these trends and “highlights responses that have integrated a gender lens,” according to its website.

The tracker “includes national measures that are directly addressing women’s economic and social security, including unpaid care work, the labor market and violence against women,” the UNDP explained.

Overall, the UNDP and U.N. Women tallied 2,517 measures related to covid-19 implemented by 206 governments worldwide. Of the measures, 992 are “gender sensitive,” according to the tracker. Of those, 704 measures in 135 countries have concerned violence against women, 177 in 85 countries tackled economic security for women, and 111 in 60 countries addressed unpaid care.

Taken as a whole, that means that just 18 percent of policies passed globally concerning social protection and labor markets have specifically targeted unpaid care and economic insecurity faced by women, according to the United Nations.

The tracker also underscores deep divides between high-income and low-income countries: 34 countries classed as “least developed countries” (LDC) passed at least one covid-19 measure that was gender-related, compared to 131 non-LDCs.

Measures targeting violence against women and girls — which has increased in many communities worldwide amid lockdowns and economy upheaval — were among the areas that governments prioritized.

Still, the United Nations warned, the progress is far from sufficient. “While men have been most affected in terms of fatalities, covid-19 has exacerbated economic crises, care deficits and the ‘shadow pandemic’ of gender-based violence, with disproportionate impacts on women,” the global agencies concluded. “Inequalities between groups of women based on race, disability, income, age and more have also been starkly apparent in both the spread and the impact of the virus.”

The Washington Post

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