The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Women (UN Women) have partnered to inaugurate a COVID-19 global gender response tracker.
“The aim of the tracker is to provide unique data about what governments are doing to support women in their COVID-19 responses,” says the agencies.
The Gender Tracker, which also analyses gender equality in global pandemic recovery policies, was inaugurated virtually.
It is said to look at both contributory and non-contributory global social protection response through two key lenses which are “whether the measures target or prioritise women as recipients of benefits and whether the measure addresses unpaid care work’’.
The Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said that the tool was being inaugurated in the context that the pandemic is hitting women and girls harder.
Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the social and economic fallouts of the crisis is worsening gender inequality, adding that the tracker would assist governments to address the worrying trend which is worsening by the day.
“The pandemic is also threatening to hit women in areas that we as the United Nations are very highly vested in, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“We are seeing spiraling rates of violence against women as they have been under lockdown and we have been able to see through the tracker, that services such as shelter helplines are struggling to respond and cope with the increased demand.
“Women are losing their jobs, faster than men in the sectors in which they are highly represented.
“It is also sad that they have precarious contracts without security, the contracts are not enforceable and they do not have savings and insurance.
“Also, we know that not just during the pandemic, but even before, there has been the crisis of care, where women shoulder the greater burden for unpaid care,” she said.
The Executive Director added that the closure of schools worsened the crisis for women, as some of them have to homeschool and take care of children.
“Our message to governments is that they must consider the impacts of the crisis on Women and Girls, and take positive steps by using what we are providing as reliable data.
“We are excited about this tracker because it provides unique data on what governments are already doing and gives us incredible information in the three policy areas.”
According to Mlambo-Ngcuka, the policy areas are in the measures that have been taken to address violence against women, in ensuring women’s economic security and in the support of unpaid care work.
Sarah Hendriks, Director of the Policy Programme and Intergovernmental Support Division of UN Women, said in her report that 2,500 policy measures across 206 countries and territories have been compiled and analysed.
“We’ve made every effort to ensure that the tracker is as comprehensive as possible and we’re also following a moving target at a global scale.
“The tracker is therefore a living platform and we are striving to improve it with the help of our partners, member states, civil society, and other UN agencies across the UN system,” she said.
Meanwhile, UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, said that without action, COVID-19 threatens to unravel the hard-fought gains towards gender equality made since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action.
“The COVID-19 crisis provides an opportunity for countries to transform existing economic models towards a renewed social contract that prioritizes social justice and gender equality.
“This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices,” he said.
The tracker also shows that the gender response varies widely across countries and regions with Europe leading the response on addressing violence against women and girls.
By Busayo Onijala