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COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Regress on Gender Equality

Asian Development Bank



Policy Brief

Influencing Gender Norms Impact Investing Workplace Gender Equality

Gender equality covid-19 women’s empowerment Crisis response and recovery Government policy

COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Regress on Gender Equality

COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Regress on Gender Equality

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis threatens to reverse hard-won gains in gender equality, further exposing women’s vulnerabilities based on their pre-crisis social, economic, and political situations. Moreover, consequences for women and girls in the Asia-Pacific may be considerable, with impact likely to last beyond the pandemic (UN 2020). Understanding the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can guide policy makers as they pursue gender-responsive policy making and budgeting.

Mindful of the need to addresses existing and emerging gender inequalities and challenges, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published a policy brief that provides (1) an overview of the gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) a set of recommendations for gender-responsive policies and sector-specific strategies in response.

Key Insights

  • ADB uses the rationale that (1) gender equality will increase economic growth, (2) female crisis leadership benefits all, as amply demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (3) the importance of gender-responsive and context-specific measures based on previous pandemic responses.
  • ADB has been mainstreaming and promoting gender equality through its different sector operations by integrating proactive gender design measures and gender targets. Some of ADB’s program design features also include the gender impact assessment of the emergency assistance to inform the future policy making of developing member economies. ADB has committed USD 20 billion in additional assistance for its developing member countries in response to COVID-19. The COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Program, funded under the COVID-19 pandemic response option, was formulated with a gendered approach.
  • The ADB recommends that governments adopt strategies that target women and girls in all efforts. Given the large potential gains countries have in greater gender equality, and consequently, the losses they could accumulate by ignoring the gendered effects of COVID-19, governments should adopt an intentional gender lens in local and national responses to the pandemic. Recommended actions are as follows:
    – Enhance social services and health protection.
    – Provide conditional or unconditional cash transfers and food assistance.
    – Provide targeted support for the most marginalized girls and boys.
    – Create gender-responsive education.
    –  Narrow gender gaps through skills development and job creation.
    – Pursue gender-responsive labour market policies.
    – Address different forms of gender-based violence.

This report was originally published on the ADB website.

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