This year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March is dedicated to the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”. It comes as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and the staggering impacts it has on women – from being pushed into poverty, to loss of jobs as the informal economy shrinks, to an alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden.
Diversity in leadership makes a difference, and the pandemic response in countries led by women has captured the headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, UN Women points out. Yet research on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day reveals that only three countries in the world have 50 per cent or more women in parliament.
Globally, 119 countries have never had a woman leader as a Head of State or Government. At the current rate of progress, gender parity will not be reached in parliaments before 2063, in ministerial positions before 2077 and in the highest positions of power before 2150, according to UN Women.
The COVID-19 crisis will dramatically increase the poverty rate for women and widen the gap between men and women who live in poverty, UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assumed in their Report From insights to action: Gender equality in the wake of COVID-19 published in September 2020. While the pandemic will impact global poverty generally, women will be disproportionately affected, especially women of reproductive age.
The pandemic has posed a serious threat to the prospects of eradicating extreme poverty by the end of this decade. And the reality might be even grimmer as these projections of increased poverty rates for women and girls only account for the downward revision of the gross domestic product (GDP), excluding other factors—such as women leaving the workforce due to childcare responsibilities—that may also affect the sex distribution of poverty.
Read more on the International Women’s Day at the UN Women website