An emergent theme within the Global Women’s Caucus is that of the economic wellbeing of women. As COVID-19 highlights gender-based inequalities, it becomes clear that representation for the interests of women in government is crucial to advance and secure the economic wellbeing of women through responsive legislation.
UN Women reported in 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women the world over. From increasing burdens of unpaid care and domestic work to increased risk of transmission and fatality rates for poor or otherwise marginalized women, the pandemic is taking its toll on the world’s women. The report also estimates that “COVID-19 will contribute to the worsening of gender-poverty gaps” through growth of extreme global poverty and women disproportionately losing their jobs. A further report from McKinsey asserts that “women are more vulnerable to COVID-19 related economic effects because of existing gender inequalities.
Democratically elected officials have many duties including to protect citizens from the brunt of public health emergencies and economic crises via legislation to benefit citizens. As these assessments and others all point to a threat to the economic wellbeing of women, it is key to ask if those elected to office are acting in the interest of women and of our economic wellbeing.
It is important to note that with the best interest of women in mind, we are not advocating for elected officials to neglect the needs of men. Rather we are insisting that supporting women specifically and women’s economic wellbeing is a component of any equitable approach to supporting the larger societal economic wellbeing.
Women are experiencing the effects of the pandemic differently, economically and otherwise. As the research shows, women are at a particular disadvantage and so it is important to ensure that our elected representatives take that research into consideration in order to formulate equitable policy, accordingly.
As women are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic and we urge representatives to consider this in crafting equitable policy to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CIAT reminds the caucus of the importance of electing women to public office.
Of course not every woman has the same opinion on what is in the best interest of women, which is why the CIAT focuses our efforts on electing Democratic women who fight for issues like equal pay for equal work, reproductive freedoms, family leave and child care, and standing against sexual violence.
In our future work, we will be especially interested in talking with women in Congress and women running for office about their goals to advance and secure the economic wellbeing of women to participate in larger discussions with the Caucus about the economic wellbeing of women.