According to the UN’s data, South Asia’s female poverty rate will increase by 47 million in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data also says that more women in the 25 to 35 age group will be poor in the next decade than the men of the same age bracket. The UN Women and the UN Development Programme (WNDP) stressed this by saying that this extreme poverty in 2021 will reverse the decades of progress done to uplift the women’s status in South Asia. The report titled “From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19” brings forth this gender poverty gap amidst the pandemic.
From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the wake of COVID-19
The report released on Wednesday said, “The expected rise of poverty in South Asia as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic showcases the vulnerability of women and girls living in households that have only recently been able to escape poverty.” The poverty rate in South Asia was expected to be about 10% pre-pandemic, but now it is projected to be 13%. Also, the projections by region showed that by 2030 only 15.8% of the world’s poor girls and women would have lived in South Asia, but now the figure stands at 18.6%. The report also analyzed that about 60 million people will fall into extreme poverty due to coronavirus.
Broadening the gender disparity
The report has estimated deep gender poverty gaps, especially between the ages of 25 to 34, which is a formative period of earning for both men and women. The report says that in 2021 there will be 118 poor women for every 100 poor men. However, it is shocking that the ratio is expected to increase to 129 poor women for every 100 poor men by 2030. Globally, the poverty rate of women was projected to decrease by 2.7% between 2019 and 2021, but now it shows an estimated increase of 9.1% in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka expressed her concern over this new development. She said, “The increases in women’s extreme poverty are a stark indictment of deep flaws in the ways we have constructed our societies and economies. We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family; they earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs – in fact, overall, women’s employment is 19 percent more at risk than men’s.” She also stressed that there have been multiple issues in the pandemic regarding women, and it is vital to drive immediate, restorative policies.
Suggestions by the Policy Times
- As the GDP of every country around the world takes a significant hit, it is a severe threat that only women are disproportionately being affected highly in South Asia. This is a wake-up call for all policymakers to focus on the gender gap.
- The crux of this discussion should not just be limited to expressing concern over this but asking if there is anything we can do to alleviate them.
- UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said, “More than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers.”
- We should demand more investment in reducing gender inequality, which will ultimately affect men, women, and others.