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COVID-19: The bigger setback to corruption and global imbalances in gender equality

COVID-19 threatened the world in each and every sector of their economies and may also increase the chances of corruption as every government nowadays are busy to counter the health crisis. Corruption, the abuse of public office for private gain, it erodes the social contract and corrodes the government’s ability to help grow the economy in a way that benefits all citizens the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of stronger governance for three reasons.

1st Governments around the world are playing a bigger role in the economy to combat the pandemic and provide economic lifelines to people and domestic economy. This expanded role is crucial but it also increases opportunities for corruption. To help ensure the money and measures are helping the people who need it most, governments need timely and transparent reporting, ex-post audits and accountability procedures, and close cooperation with civil society and the private sector. 2ndas public finances worsen, countries need to prevent tax evasion and the waste and loss of funds caused by corruption in public spending. 3rdcrises test people’s trust in government and institutions, and ethical behavior becomes more salient when medical services are in such high demand. Evidence of corruption could undermine a country’s ability to respond effectively to the crisis, deepening the economic impact, and threatening a loss of political and social cohesion. Governance safeguards for emergency assistance related to COVID-19 are part of a more comprehensive effort to improve governance and efforts to tackle corruption.

We must categorize corruption in many forms and gender inequality is one the worst form of it. The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities; widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress. Well-designed policies to foster recovery can mitigate the negative effects of the crisis on women and prevent further setbacks for gender equality. What is good for women is ultimately good for addressing income inequality, economic growth, and resilience.

There are several reasons of disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on women and their economic status. 1st women are more likely than men to work in social sectors like services, industries, retail, tourism, and hospitality that require face-to-face interactions. These sectors are hit hardest by social distancing measures. In developed countries, unemployment among women was two percentage points higher than men between April-June 2020. Because of the nature of their jobs, teleworking is not an option for many women. In the United States, about 54 percent of women working in social sectors cannot telework. In Brazil, it is 67 percent. In low-income countries like Pakistan at most only about 12 percent of the population is able to work remotely.

2ndwomen are more likely than men to be employed in the informal sector in low-income countries. Informal employment often compensated in cash with no official oversight leaves women with lower pay, no protection of labor laws, and no benefits such as pensions or health insurance. The livelihoods of informal workers have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

 

3rd women tend to do more unpaid household work than men, about 2.7 hours per day more to be exact. They bear the brunt of family care responsibilities resulting from shutdown measures such as school closures and precautions for vulnerable elderly parents. After shutdown measures have been lifted, women are slower to return to full employment.

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4thpandemic put women at greater risk of losing human capital. In many developing countries, young girls are forced to drop out of school and work to supplement household income. According to the Malala Fund report, the share of girls not attending school nearly tripled in Liberia after the Ebola crisis, and girls were 25 percent less likely than boys to re-enroll in Guinea. Without education, these girls suffer a permanent loss of human capital, sacrificing productivity growth and perpetuating the cycle of poverty among women.

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It is crucial that governments and policymakers will take necessary measures to limit the scarring and dangerous effects of the pandemic on women. This could entail a focus on extending income support to the vulnerable, preserving employment linkages, providing incentives to balance work and family care responsibilities, improving access to health care and family planning, and expanding support for small businesses and the self-employed. Elimination of legal barriers against women’s economic empowerment is also a priority. Some countries have moved quickly to adopt some of these policies. Austria, Italy, Portugal, and Slovenia have introduced a statutory right to (partially) paid leave for parents with children below a certain age, and France has expanded sick leave to parents impacted by school closures if no alternative care or work arrangements can be found. Latin American women leaders have established the “Coalition of Action for the Economic Empowerment of Women” as part of a wider whole-of-government effort to increase women’s participation in the post-pandemic economic recovery. In Togo, 65 percent of participants in a new mobile cash-transfer program are women. The program enables informal workers to receive grants of 30 percent of minimum wage.

In the longer run it is mandatory to adopt policies that are designed to tackle gender inequality by offering incentives to women at work by making effective gender-responsive fiscal policies, such as investing in education and infrastructure, subsidizing childcare, and offering parental leave. These policies are not only important to remove constraints on women’s economic empowerment but also necessary to promote quick post-COVID-19 recovery especially for the countries like Pakistan where more than 50% population are women.

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