By – Angela Riccitello
[JIG Covid-19 Series]: The socio-economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on communities across the globe was the topic of a webinar as part of the Nairobi Commitments/ICPD25: ‘What’s Next?’ Global Conversation series by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities [UNFPA]. This second discussion was titled “Money in Our Pockets: COVID Socio-economic Consequences” where mitigation strategies were highlighted by feminist economist Radhika Balakrishnan, Faculty Director, for the Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s [CWGL], as well as other academic leaders.
Held on June 25, 2020, the webinar included detailed damages on livelihoods and economies in addition to action steps needed to lessen the economic, social and health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on countries around the world.
Balakrishnan discusses the pandemic as a multi-dimensional crisis. “Covid-19 is an economic crisis, healthcare crisis, and a crisis of care. It intensifies economic inequalities and vulnerabilities in terms of gender and of race, and divisions of class and caste,” she said.
“The issue of domestic violence is also increasing by the minute. Lockdowns have exacerbated the issues we’ve been dealing with.” Balakrishnan explained the need for a feminist response, and to look at care work as part of the world economy. Covid-19 also reveals the widening inequalities between groups and genders.
“The worst hit work in the informal economy. For these people, there is a stark trade-off between eating, dying of hunger or dying from the virus. For them, the imperative is to keep working,” said Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the London School of Economics, who confronts inequalities in the context of Covid-19.”
“In India, women are more likely to die from coronavirus than men, showing the existing health inequalities between women and men,” said Kabeer. Policies are needed at both the national and international levels.
Isabel Ortiz, Director of the Global Social Justice Program addresses the necessary policy implementations for Covid-19 recovery. “We need to invest in universal public health. The key is to continue investing in long-term universal public health systems, including reproductive health because it is essential to the health of the planet.”
Ortiz said countries who have done well during crises already have universal public social protection programs in place. The Nairobi Commitments are now more imperative than ever.
“The pandemic is interrupting health systems, programs that have been ongoing, and could contribute to 13 additional child marriages and 2 million cases of FGM,” said Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, UNFPA and Facilitator of the series of global conversations.
“Regardless of the political push back against sexual and reproductive health and rights, UNFPA is keeping our eyes fixed on the horizon, including Nairobi Commitments and Agenda 2030.”
*This story is part of the Covid-19 gender-based violence journalism series, produced by the Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence (JiG), an initiative of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. The Series is produced by Angela Riccitello (Writer) and Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson (Editor). Riccitello is the journalism intern at JiG and a journalism graduate at Rutgers University. Lagipoiva is the Chief Editor of JiG and the CWGL Visiting Global Associate.