A Post-Pandemic Gender Equality Agenda

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July 2020

Globally, the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had drastic public health and financial impacts on workers and families that are already deep, far-reaching, and unprecedented. These impacts underscore longstanding gender, racial, and socio-economic disparities in our economy and social structures, deepening existing inequities and imposing disproportionate, long-term harms on women’s economic security. As workplaces and the economy reopen, women are likely to be worse off than before.

          On July 16, 2020, we released our Policy Brief, Eradicating Longstanding Disparities: A Gender Equality Agenda for Lawmakers for the Post-Covid-19 World. In our comprehensive analysis, we build on our fifty years of work tackling gender inequity to shed light on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of women’s lives in disproportionate yet familiar ways. Our Policy Brief covers impacts on employment and economic security, workplace safety, caregiving responsibilities, healthcare access, maternal and reproductive health, personal safety and security, and housing and food security. The Policy Brief also identifies priorities for federal, state, and local governments and recommends measures to shape immediate short-term responses to address the gendered impact of this pandemic and to facilitate a long-term transformative agenda for inclusive gender equality.

          The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted longstanding gender and racial inequalities in our social, political, economic, and health systems. Historically, women, people of color, and our immigrant communities have faced substantial disparities across the spectrum in employment; education; pay; acquisition of wealth; and access to financing and basic necessities like healthcare, housing, and food. Those who have suffered most are Black and Brown women who are more likely to live in poverty and work unstable low-wage jobs compared to non-Hispanic white women and men. 

          Today, the pandemic is deepening those inequalities and rolling back the limited gains achieved over the past decades. Women, people of color, and immigrants, are both facing high rates of unemployment and disproportionately serving on the frontlines doing essential work with inadequate pay, benefits, childcare, or protective equipment. The end result is that many women have now been forced to risk their lives and the lives of their families, or have been pushed out of the workforce or further into poverty. 

          The COVID-19 crisis brings renewed urgency to enacting measures that we have championed for decades, including more equitable workplace practices. These include eliminating occupational segregation, establishing essential support structures such as paid leave and affordable child care for all workers and families, mandating a living wage for all workers, and ending worker exclusions in labor and anti-discrimination laws.

          Addressing longstanding inequalities not only serves women, it promises more just and sustainable outcomes for the future of everyone. As lawmakers put in place emergency benefits, stimulus packages, budget priorities, and recovery plans, their approach must be informed by an understanding of the gender and racial impacts of this crisis and the underlying inequalities that led us here. Just as women and people of color are at the center of the global response to COVID-19, women and people of color must be at the decision-making table and their rights, interests, and voices must be at the center of our policy response. 

          Now, more than ever, we must reimagine an economy and society that values all women and ensures that everyone can live and work with dignity.

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Legal Momentum Legal Team