Covid-19 has made World Worse for Women
~ by Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
New York – Despite limitations imposed by the global pandemic, participants in two weeks of United Nations meetings that focused on women’s participation in public life and the need to eliminate violence against women and girls praised the event as a necessary step in advancing gender equality. Participants called the 65th session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women a success, but they also noted a sense of impatience with the pace of progress and said the pandemic year has set back the cause of women’s equality globally.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, the global body’s secretariat focused on women and girls, said the meetings served as a clear reminder that women believe “that the past and the status quo have not met their need for gender equality.”
But in a March 27 statement, Mlambo-Ngcuka also praised the result of the March meetings which were based at the U.N. headquarters in New York. She said the meetings’ outcome document “recognizes the need to significantly accelerate the pace of progress to ensure women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and the public sector.”
The global pandemic “is deepening pre-existing inequalities that perpetuate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as racism, stigmatization and xenophobia,” she added.
Catholic sisters who participated in numerous online forums held parallel to the formal U.N. events told GSR after the meetings that the event displayed both expected limitations but also new strengths given the change in format. Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, who works as justice coordinator for the Sisters of the Holy Cross agrees the global situation for women and girls has become dire this year, given how pandemic-driven lockdowns, loss of jobs and the burden of family situations have mainly fallen on women. Also deeply troubling, she said, has been the rise of domestic violence globally.
Sr. Raquel Hernandez Gonzalez, a Comboni Missionary sister based in Mexico, and Holy Cross Sister Semerita Mbambu, based in Uganda, told of similar plights of women trying to escape environments marked by kidnappings, domestic violence and forced marriages.
Though accounts of struggle were common during the Commission on the Status of Women evtns, Sr. Carol DeAngelo, Director of the Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation of the Sisters of Charity, said the meetings landed on an optimistic spot. However, Sr. Carol underlined the seriousness of women’s status in the world right now because of the pandemic and long-standing inequities.
“Power is not going to be given to us,” she said, adding that it is up to women and male allies to work toward gender equality. To read the complete account please click here