COVID-19 has worsened economic inequality for women –Experts

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Jesusegun Alagbe

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the economic inequality faced by women, some female professionals said on Thursday in an event to mark the International Women’s Day coming up on March 8.

The campaign theme for the 2021 IWD as shared by the United Nations Development Programme is, ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’

The UNDP said as countries and communities started to slowly recover from the pandemic, “we have the chance to finally end the exclusion and marginalisation of women and girls.”

“But to do that, we need immediate action,” UNDP said on its website.

Blazing a similar message during a webinar organised by the HACEY Health Initiative on Thursday, female professionals drawn from several fields said it was time to acknowledge the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In her keynote speech, the Head of Sustainability, Access Bank, Omobolanle Victor-Laniyan, said the pandemic had worsened economic inequality faced by women.

She said despite many of the advances made towards gender equality in the past few decades, progress had been slow as discriminatory laws and social norms remained pervasive.

She said, “The 2020 Global Gender Gap Report published by the World Economic Forum indicates there is still a 31.4 per cent average gender gap that remains to be closed as men continue to dominate the global workforce. At the current rate of change, the global gender gap will not close for another 100 years.

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“Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly aggravating economic inequalities faced by women. A new study suggests the COVID-19 pandemic will have a disproportionately negative effect on women and their employment opportunities. The effects of this shock are likely to outlast the actual epidemic.

“It is, therefore, no longer news that COVID-19 has deepened pre-existing inequalities and exposed vulnerabilities in economic systems with more women than men at the receiving end.”

In her welcome address, the Executive Director, HACEY Health Initiative, Rhoda Robinson, said 2021 brought so much to reflect on as remarkable efforts and progress were being made by women leaders to make their industries stand strong despite COVID-19.

She said, “COVID-19 has amplified the inequalities women face every day and it’s very important to have national and global recovery plans to address this across all sectors.

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“There is, therefore, no better time than now to discuss the theme, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’”

Other guests who spoke at the webinar were the Chief Executive Officer, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, Mrs Osayi Alile; the Deputy Director (Business), Noah Ark Communications Limited, Mrs Olajumoke Akinyele; and the Executive Director, Women in Successful Careers, Mrs Fabia Ogunmekan.

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