DUBAI: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis has highlighted and possibly deepened existing gender inequalities, Saudi Arabia’s representative to the official G20 engagement group on women has claimed.
Speaking to media ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh, Women 20 (W20) sherpa Salma Al-Rashid called for a “more equitable approach” to post-pandemic recovery.
“We need to highlight how critical the full and equitable participation of women is for sustainable and faster socio-economic recovery, as we rebuild our economies in the post-COVID-19 era,” she said.
Al-Rashid pointed out that it was important to recognize the “gendered” impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that women had faced unique challenges ever since the virus outbreak.
The prominent Saudi social worker said that the global health crisis had provided an opportunity for G20 leaders “to reset economies through a more inclusive approach.”
She noted that the W20’s main function was to ensure gender considerations were inserted into G20 negotiations, particularly on issues such as labor and employment, political representation, and digital inclusion.
Al-Rashid said there was a lack of female participation in government initiatives to address COVID-19.
“Women’s voices were largely missing, despite the fact that women constitute the majority of frontline health and social workers and continue to bear a greater burden of unpaid care work within their families and communities,” she added.
One of the W20’s key recommendations, which was written through a communique to be shared with G20 leaders, was to ensure a balanced growth by supporting women empowerment as the world navigates the impact of the pandemic.
Women should be represented at all levels of decision-making in the private and public sectors, Al-Rashid said, adding that fiscal planning should be “gender-responsive.”
There should also be increased investment on social infrastructures for women, she said, as well as income protection mechanisms for female workers in the developing world.
The Saudi sherpa recognized the difficulty of creating recommendations because of the severe impact of COVID-19 on women, but she said the group remained agile in championing gender equality.