Women stand at the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis, and new barriers have emerged with the pandemic


By Esinathy Sibanda


For us at TheMailOnline it is not just one day of Women’s Day, but it should be Women’s Day every week, every month and more often.

Each year, the International Women’s Day is set aside as a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also making a call to action for strengthening gender equality and accelerating women’s empowerment.

This is a day of celebration that also recognises the women who have come before, laid the groundwork and fought for the rights of all.

Empowerment drives further empowerment; this is what International Women’s Day is all about.

In addition to persistent pre-existing social and systemic barriers to women’s participation and leadership, new barriers have emerged with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across the world women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment and poverty.

Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global Covid-19 policy spaces.

Highlighted the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry

The theme this year is Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world.

It celebrates the remarkable efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equitable future and the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is barely any country in the world that has not been touched by the Covid-19 virus and its aftershocks.

This year’s theme is aligned with the priority theme of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women: “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls”.

It is also aligned to the flagship Generation Equality campaign, which calls for women’s right to decision-making in all areas of life, equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end all forms of violence against women and girls, and health-care services that respond to their needs.

Women stand at the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organisers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic.

The crisis has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burdens that women carry.

Women leaders and women’s organizations have demonstrated their skills, knowledge and networks to effectively lead in Covid-19 response and recovery efforts.

Today there is more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all.

Different stages of pandemic response and recovery

To uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, the perspectives of women and girls in all of their diversity must be integrated in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in all spheres and at all stages of pandemic response and recovery.

It is vital for policy-makers at all levels to recognize what women leaders are doing, and the challenges they face, to help them fully participate in a post-pandemic world.

This year’s women’s day campaign theme is Choose to Challenge, which means that every individual is responsible for our own actions and thoughts, challenging the existing stereotypes, biases and violence holding back women to fully explore their developmental potential.

A key contributor to a more equal Covid-19 world is increasing women’s access to leadership roles.

Unfortunately, women still face significant cultural, socio-economic and political barriers to accessing leadership.

The pandemic has not only increased inequalities that already existed, it is also likely to wipe out decades of achievements.

Measures adopted to contain the spread of the virus have often exacerbated the gender divide.

To make sure women’s lives take a step forward, not backwards, we have to achieve genuine equality. It is time to end the rhetoric and to forge ahead.

Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all.

To get us there, the world needs women at every table where decisions are being made.

It is strikingly clear that we need gender equality and we need strong women, without which the economic and social recovery would remain incomplete.

It is our duty and responsibility to make sure the differing yet interlinked needs of people of all genders are taken into account and catered for in the Covid-19 response to build a more resilient, more equal, more just society.

A challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.


Esinathy Sibanda is a features writer for The Mail Online. Feedback esinathy@saywhat.org.zw



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