In every country, the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate existing gender inequalities. As the virus spreads, the world’s poorest countries—including those already experiencing high levels of conflict—will be hit hardest.
2020 was envisioned as a year to celebrate and make significant new progress on gender equality. Plans were underway to accelerate global efforts to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. COVID-19 has only underscored the urgency to resume these initiatives. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned COVID-19 is deepening existing inequalities—it is having “devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls” that could reverse the limited progress towards gender equality achieved over the past 25 years.
Released on May 21, 2020, A Feminist Action Agenda for Canada’s Global Response to COVID-19—produced by Oxfam Canada, Amnesty International, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Inter Pares, Action Canada for Sexual and Health Rights, and the Equality Fund—states that Canada is well-placed to take a leadership role in ensuring that women’s rights and gender justice are at the heart of the global COVID-19 response.
The Feminist Action Agenda makes several recommendations on how the government of Canada can employ a gender equality lens in its actions to combat the pandemic. Further, the Feminist Action Agenda outlines five S-words as principles for Canada’s response to COVID-19:
- Safety and rights