Continued from Friday
Malawian women must also equally lead in the informal economy where most of them are employed. While they loudly speak to gain the platform to lead, they need the structures that are reluctant to see this happen to change.
They also need policy measures pushed deliberately by government to offer them better and cheaper finance and better market regulations that boost their competitiveness. Broad economic measures can be implemented to confront women’s increasing time and income poverty.
This includes efforts to recognise, reduce and redistribute the increased burden of unpaid care and domestic work in national accounting systems.
NGOs and institutions working on Covid-19 interventions can play crucial roles in advocating for these changes. Many are already joining the global movement on Generation Equality that seeks to accelerate progress on gender equality.
While they must themselves be the example for the change they preach, they can push for policy advocacy towards improving sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics collection, use and expansion of research on the gendered impacts on Covid-19.
They are best-positioned to investigate plausible explanations as to why there are more Covid-19 fatalities for men than for women while unearthing data on cases, deaths, hospitalisation and testing to understand the pandemic’s impact on different groups and where solutions are failing the citizens.
A stronger female leadership can advocate for bold changes in the market. We need meaningful partnership with the private sector, who can formidably chart the recovery by working with youths, universities and others and democratize information on Covid-19.
Mobile service providers, for example, must look beyond profits and provide cellular data that is more affordable than any other time in our history, for without customers, there is no business. They can play an important part in bridging the technology divide, including realising the Internet is no longer a luxury.
Private sector can provide tools for learning, using platforms to share information specifically for women, girls and children even in the comforts of their homes. The conduct of private companies must ensure health protocols are observed in delivering services and products and, where possible, tailor for women who are vulnerable within their entities and in their clientele.
In conclusion, beyond the public health crisis, Covid-19 has rapidly morphed into a fully-fledged economic and social crisis whose effects will reverberate for years to come.
Covid-19 has revealed the cracks in socio-economic equality are larger and more complex than we thought.
It has exposed the divides between the rich and poor within and between countries. With hoarding of vaccines by rich economies even beyond their country needs means countries as ours will continue to suffer the direct health effects of the pandemic in comparison with rich countries.
Considerations for gender equality can be instrumental in addressing these impacts as they will help unlock a potential for economic vitality that will be critical for our survival.
This means increasing women’s social and economic opportunities as our societies have done for men since time immemorial. It also means dealing away gender stereotypes, gender-based violence in all its forms and ensuring emergency centres, hotlines and protection services are functional and follow through funding.
We must bring women to the table, not to satisfy numbers, but meaningful engagement and, where necessary, give them the opportunity to lead and share a new perspective. Our lives through a devastating pandemic depend on it.