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World Bank says critical measures are needed to return women to the workforce after the pandemic

Indian women wait in a queue for food in New Delhi.

The World Bank has warned that critical steps must be taken during the pandemic recovery period to get women back to work and back on track toward gender equality.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing gender gaps, and more efforts than ever are needed to move women forward, according to Caren Grown, global director of the World Bank Group, on Friday.

“While everyone has faced the same storm, it has really impacted men and women differently,” Grown explained.

For example, while men have a higher overall death rate from Covid-19, women have been more negatively impacted socially and economically, she claims.

This is due in part to women’s disproportionate representation in hard-hit industries like hospitality and tourism, but also to the additional caregiving responsibilities they typically face.

It was always called the shadow pandemic, but as we think about recovery we actually have to put in place stronger responses.

Caren Grown

global director, World Bank Group

Even before the pandemic, the World Bank predicted that women would need 150 years to achieve gender equality with men. The health-care crisis has most likely pushed back that timeline.

Grown believes that ensuring equitable access to vaccines will be critical in bridging those gaps. This includes ensuring that women have the time and resources to attend their appointments.

Beyond that, additional financial and caregiving assistance is required to get the hardest-hit women back on their feet and back to work.

Finally, she believes that more safeguards against gender-based abuse should be put in place.

“Something that has come to light during this pandemic is an increase in gender-based violence,” Grown said. “It was always referred to as the shadow pandemic, but as we consider recovery, we need to implement stronger responses and preventative measures.”

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