Virus upends lives of millions of women . . .
COVID-19 has changed everyday life for people around the world. In some countries – especially China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea, all of which have imposed substantial quarantines – COVID-19 has led to school closures or delayed openings, the need to work from home (where possible), a loss of income for those who cannot work remotely, and the cancellation of public events. In addition to the health ramifications of the novel coronavirus, the outbreak has led to significant social impacts, particularly for women.
Closer look at gender inequality in Asia . . .
While March 8 marked International Women’s Day and marches and campaigns took place across Asia, women throughout the region continue to grapple with the choice of staying at home and taking care of their children and elderly dependants, or trying to work remotely. Most Asian countries do not have social security programs that support families in the event of unemployment. For many women, not working means a loss of income, which affects the affordability of everyday essentials, including medical supplies like masks and sanitizers. Staying home has also led to an uptick in the number of domestic violence cases in Asia. Hashtags such as #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic have gained traction on social media sites across the region.
Canada faces its own challenges with gender equality . . .
According to the United Nations Development Programme, there are three dimensions to the gender inequality index (GII) – reproductive health, empowerment, and labour market participation. In 2018, Canada had a score of 0.083 on the GII, which indicates it is close to achieving gender equality. But even though the Liberal government’s policy agenda has ensured more female representation in politics, the country still struggles with equal pay (women of colour and Indigenous women are the most disadvantaged) and issues of violence against women. Although Canadian women aren’t facing all of the challenges of women in other societies highly impacted by COVID-19, women in Canada are still highly underrepresented in leadership roles and often passed over despite having matching qualifications and experience.