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Op-ed: End the disconnect | UN Women – Headquarters

Global conflicts, the climate and environmental crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic are stark reminders of the interconnectedness of the global challenges we face and their ability to multiply threats and their impact. They have claimed the greatest number of victims among women and girls, particularly affecting those who are already the most left behind. We see this pattern playing out in crises around the world. The horrific war in Ukraine and its cascading effects on security, livelihoods and health are the latest to join the list.

In Afghanistan, with 23 million people identified as acutely food insecure, we are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe marked by increasing gender-based restrictions that directly impact the ability of women and girls to realize their rights and to contribute to their country. Yet we know that including women pays huge dividends for peace and prosperity.

I would like to highlight three priority areas that G7 countries need to address: resilience to crises, the economy, including care, and violence against women and girls. Together, these intertwined and unresolved aspects underlie the structural barriers that block progress towards sustainable development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how crises dramatically increase women’s and girls’ unpaid care and domestic work and the impact this has on their ability to engage in paid work. More than 100 million women between the ages of 25 and 54, with young children at home, are excluded from the labor force worldwide. Yet, there are still not enough good measures taken to solve the problem. Of more than 3,000 social and economic measures taken by governments in response to the economic and social fallout from the pandemic, only 13% target women’s economic security and only 7% address the increased demands for unpaid care. It is essential to invest in expanded gender-sensitive public services, universal social protection and health and care systems.

The same limitations apply to measures taken to address violence against women and girls, already the most widespread human rights violation. Globally, we have seen current crises exacerbate gender-based violence, too often with impunity for perpetrators and inadequate services for survivors. Climate change is a serious aggravating factor in all types of violence against women and girls, especially in the absence of social protection schemes and food insecurity, as they attempt to obtain food for their family members and for themselves. Since the start of the pandemic, 45% of women surveyed said they or someone they knew had experienced some form of violence. I urge G7 leaders to strengthen their response and increase their accountability, implement measures to prevent violence in the first place and expand service delivery, including essential services for women and girl victims. of all kinds of violence.

Effective responses to these identified gaps require significant political commitment as well as increased public and private funding. Meeting long-standing commitments, such as vaccine supply and climate finance for developing countries, is now more essential than ever. Funding is particularly needed to support women’s organisations, businesses and cooperatives, whose complementary roles in times of crisis – and outside of it – are invaluable. Increasing political will also means increasing women’s representation in government, using quotas and special measures to accelerate progress. Worldwide, women still hold only one in four parliamentary seats. We lack critical openings to bring those with the most relevant lived knowledge into the decision-making space. When we exclude the expertise and voice of women themselves from the responses, there is an increasingly detrimental opportunity cost for all of us.

As Generation Equality has recognised, we must now, collectively, establish a new feminist way of solving these problems and responding to crises, with action in partnership for the long term. At the heart of this approach is the recognition of what is missing to date – the full, equal and meaningful representation of women in all their diversity at all levels in decision-making, leadership and the implementation of solutions, in full respect of their rights. I call on G7 leaders at the Elmau Summit to resolve to take this simple and deeply meaningful step and achieve gender equality together – for the benefit of all.

Article and graphic reproduced with permission from “G7 Germany: the Elmau 2022 summit”p. 108–109.

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