Women’s absence in decision making affecting people’s lives amid Covid-19: UNDP

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New Delhi (NVI): With less than a quarter of parliamentary seats held by women across the world, their absence in decision making is having a direct impact on people’s lives, according to UNDP report.

During the ongoing coronavirus crisis, lack of women representation in parliament has been cited as one of the reasons for increase in violence against women and girls under pandemic lockdown measures. It is because most male dominated governments failed to anticipate it and have been slow to respond.

Women’s absence in decision making is having a direct impact on people’s lives. Countries with more women in leadership – in governments, cabinets, legislatures – have delivered COVID-19 responses that consider the effects of the crisis on women and girls. Such a lack of women’s perspectives can have deadly consequences, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Notably, not enough policymakers are using a gender lens to examine the evidence and lack of equal representation in parliaments is largely to blame.

The global average for women’s representation in parliament has inched up from 11.2 to 24.9 percent in the last two decades. While this can be seen as progress, it is still far from the one-third threshold considered the minimum needed to shape law and policy for gender equality.

At this rate, it will take a century to close the gender gap in politics and more than two centuries for women to attain economic equality.

According to UNDP’s interactive platform #EqualFuture shows that women’s average representation in parliaments in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region now averages 24.6 percent.

This is because nationally legislated gender quotas and affirmative policies like temporary special measures have proven to be a critical first step in bringing more women into the ranks of elected politicians.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, in some countries more men are picking up a larger share of household and care work. This should be seen as an opportunity to do more to allow women equality in the labour market.

Today’s complex problems call for smarter solutions. Whether it is the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inequalities combined with gender wage and labour gaps, or climate change, our responses must consider a multiplicity of perspectives and experiences – informed by gender, race, background, education, class and occupation.

Women in politics don’t derive their power on their own – they are most successful when they are seen as part of influential women’s networks in science and industry, civil society and the media.

Equal participation in political decision-making is a matter of gender equality. Women are half the world’s population and must have equal say in all decisions that affect their lives.