Economic leaders call for gender equality in pandemic recovery

Only if we seize on this opportunity to prioritise gender equality can we build a more prosperous world for all
World Turned Upside Down
The World Turned Upside Down Damian Griffiths

LSE Director Minouche Shafik has joined leaders from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, World Trade Organisation, European Commission and United Nations to call on governments around the world to prioritise gender equality as they seek to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19. 

The statement, published on LSE’s LinkedIn page and shared by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been signed by:

  • Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund;
  • Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank ;
  • Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission;
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation;
  • Minouche Shafik, Director of The London School of Economics and Political Science;
  • Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.

Women bear the heaviest cost in times of hardship

Within the statement, these leading figures highlight how women and girls from all parts of the world – both rich and poor – continue to face significant inequality, and bear the heaviest cost in times of economic hardship:

“From accepting gender pay gaps, to neglecting childcare, governments have not prioritised their needs. The result is a feeble, patchwork economic infrastructure - particularly in fields such as caregiving, retail, and tourism, where women are disproportionately represented - that leaves women struggling...

“…Globally, 64 million women have lost their jobs during the pandemic—indeed, women’s jobs are nearly two times more vulnerable than men’s.”

This inequality, they argue, has made countries weaker when faced with a crisis like a pandemic. But the response to COVID-19 also provides an opportunity to accelerate progress towards gender equality, and build stability and opportunity for everyone.

Three key policy areas

The statement calls for governments to focus on three key areas, “…to ensure that economic recovery prioritises women and girls, underpins an inclusive future, and ensures the world is prepared to withstand the next crisis.”

  • Governments must ensure that money, stimulus efforts, and social protection schemes get directly into the hands of women.
  • Countries must close gender data gaps and strengthen monitoring, evaluation, and data systems to support more effective public policy.
  • Governments must reduce the burden of unpaid care work and support better childcare to strengthen women’s labor force participation.

A more prosperous world for all

The statement concludes with a warning, “We have no time to waste … The risks of inaction cannot be overstated. Refusing to economically support women and girls will not just set this recovery back, it will leave our economies more vulnerable to future shocks.

“Only if we seize on this opportunity to prioritise gender equality can we build a more prosperous world for all.”

 You can read the full statement here: Statement on Gender Equality