Women Empowerment

Government Responses to COVID-19: Gender Equality Lessons for a Changing World | Works


The overlapping effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating climate disasters, and geopolitical conflict pose a threat to gender equality and women’s rights around the world. This UN Women and UNDP report shows what governments can do now to prevent further setbacks and recover lost ground, while building resilience and preparedness for future shocks.

Drawing on a unique global dataset of nearly 5,000 measures adopted by 226 countries and territories in response to COVID-19, the report finds that, overall, government responses have failed to pay due attention sufficient for gender dynamics. At the same time, examples of innovation and learning hold important lessons for developing gender-responsive policies in times of crisis.

For the first time, the report provides an analysis of the factors that have led to a strong gender response, generating key lessons for governments:

  • In a context of growing threats to democratic and open societies, strong institutions have proven essential for a gender-inclusive response.
  • Feminist movements and women’s rights organizations have provided an early warning system on the gendered impacts of the pandemic, particularly on violence against women and girls.
  • Women’s representation and leadership in executive positions, parliaments and public administration were key to translating feminist advocacy into political action.
  • Countries with strong public services and gender-sensitive social protection systems were better placed to respond, while others had to improvise, under pressure and with varying degrees of success.
  • Digital tools have supported feminist activism online and enabled policy innovations and rapid deployment of support, reaching women’s groups often left behind in ‘normal times’.
  • Real-time gender-disaggregated data on the impact of the pandemic on women and girls has been critical in advocating for gender-responsive response measures, as has tracking what worked in government responses.

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Regional Fact Sheets: Global and Regional Perspectives

Access key questions and facts about regional governments’ gender response to the pandemic and lessons for the future:

  • Central and South Asia (coming soon)
  • East and Southeast Asia and Oceania (forthcoming)
  • Europe and North America, Australia and New Zealand (coming soon)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean (forthcoming)
  • North Africa and West Asia (forthcoming)
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (forthcoming)

COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker

The COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker monitors the responses taken by governments around the world to fight the pandemic and highlights those that have integrated a gender perspective. It captures two types of government responses: women’s participation in COVID-19 task forces and national policy measures taken by governments. It analyzes policy measures that address women’s economic and social security, including unpaid care work, the labor market and violence against women. The tracker can provide guidance to policymakers and evidence to advocates to ensure a gender-responsive COVID-19 policy response. Access the tracker. Learn more about the methodology.

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