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G7 Must Put a Gender Lens on COVID-19 Efforts

Published on 06/04/2020 by YWCA Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies and the implications on women become more clear, members of the 2018 and 2019 G7 Gender Equality Advisory Councils urgently called on G7 member states to take into account the gendered dimensions of the crisis and to prevent the deterioration of gender equality and women’s rights worldwide.

The G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council was founded by Canada in 2018 and renewed by France in 2019, and presented recommendations to the G7 leaders during their annual summits. This group of gender specialists — including Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai, Leymah Gbowee, Nadia Murad, and Doctor Denis Mukwege; actor and activist Emma Watson; Executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; and CEO of YWCA Canada / Maya Roy — are now coming together again, outlining key actions that all governments can take to address the gendered dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis.

Recommendations from the Gender Equality Advisory Council:

✔️ Take special measures to support healthcare and social workers and to provide proper working conditions during the crisis, including all the necessary equipment and social housing near hospitals.

✔️ Adopt special measures to protect those experiencing domestic violence. Governments should ensure efficient training of all first responders, create additional emergency shelter spaces, ensure immediate removal of abusers from homes, and provide support for helplines.

✔️ Ensure that gender equality is front and centre of their education response. School closures will exacerbate existing gender inequalities, particularly for the poorest girls. Governments must keep all girls engaged in learning, factor in gender considerations when planning for school resumption and make good on aid commitments.

✔️ Guarantee access to sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, maternal health, and pre- and post-natal care. At this time of crisis, high unemployment and economic despair for millions, we also call for free menstrual and modern contraception products for girls and women.

✔️ Create public service messaging to encourage men to do fifty percent of care and housework traditionally carried out by women.

✔️ Provide disaggregated gender data on the crisis to give healthcare professionals and policy makers the information needed to develop effective health and socio-economic responses.

✔️ Include women as decision makers in local, national, and global emergency responses; in social and economic recovery efforts; and in how we strengthen our health systems post-pandemic.

Read the full letter in English and French.

As the crisis intensifies around the world, it is clear that if we truly want to save lives and deliver health, wellbeing, and dignity for all, girls and women must be front and center of, and included in the decision making of local, national and global emergency responses, in social and economic recovery efforts, and in how we strengthen our health systems post-pandemic – just as women are on the frontlines of the fight right now.

Our humanity must light up these darkest times.

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