Participants from a virtual event series of roundtables have collectively developed a gender-inclusive action plan to enable states, the private sector and civil society to implement a faster, fairer and more sustainable economic recovery from the downturn associated with COVID-19.
4. Longer-term Recommendations for Fostering a Gender-equal Economic Environment
Each of the long-term recommendations in this section was contributed by one or more of the thought leaders who participated in the roundtables and three-day workshop. These recommendations complement the recommendations for immediate action in our three-point action plan, and are intended to support a gender-inclusive long-term recovery and build societal resilience. As mentioned earlier, emphasis has been placed on policies, measures and ideas that have demonstrable potential, are implementable in different geographies or business sectors, and will boost economies by bringing more women into the labour force.
The participants urge governments to:
- Take action to ensure the equitable representation of women in politics and policymaking bodies through the implementation of targets or quotas in order to achieve gender parity by 2030. This includes domestic, international, ministerial and other public positions.
- Launch gender-responsive legal framework reforms to:
- Eliminate all gender discriminatory laws and regulations in respect of access, entry and advancement within the workplace; financial services; entrepreneurship; business; and equitable access to inheritance and property.
- Develop regulations that include incentives to drive voluntary implementation on gender issues such as wage transparency; but also develop mandatory requirements to take action to correct imbalances – for example through gender action plans, gender impact assessments and so on – with the obligation to report on progress.
- Offer incentives for all employers to achieve gender parity in decision-making positions.
- Work with the private sector and civil society to collect sex-disaggregated data on the course of the pandemic.
- Promote the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, and reward care work with equitable pay.
- Develop a gender-weighted and fully comprehensive GDP measurement of economic activity that includes the contribution from unpaid domestic and care work.
- Ratify by 2025 ILO Conventions No. 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities, No. 189 on Domestic Workers, and No. 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work.
- Establish a multinational, open repository of best practice to ensure efficient and cost-effective transfer of knowledge and help countries build on each other’s experience and expertise on gender parity issues.
The participants urge the private sector to:
- Create conditions to increase the number of women decision-makers, including through targets and quotas, to ensure full gender parity on the boards of public and listed companies by 2030.
- Take further action to close gender gaps in income, wages, pensions and other earnings, to align with the SDGs.
1. Investing in social infrastructure and family-friendly policies
The participants urge governments and/or the private sector to:
- Ensure the continued development of long-term social infrastructure plans that will guarantee affordable quality childcare and elder care are available to all women in the workforce (or re-entering the workforce).
- Ensure the continued development of long-term social infrastructure plans so that publicly financed health coverage is accessible to all.
- Take additional action to expand social protection policies for workers in both the formal and informal economies, and consider the introduction of a universal basic income to provide resilience in preparation for future crises.
- Ensure continued investment in programmes and initiatives that efficiently combat domestic violence and increase women’s access to prevention services, protection, medical help, shelters and legal services.
- Designate the right to sexual and reproductive health services as essential services, to avoid increases in unintended pregnancies in women and girls.
- Designate healthcare services for older persons as essential services. These services should include physical, mental, palliative and geriatric care.
- Develop national action plans for the reform of pension schemes, in order to create conditions that will ensure income security for older persons – particularly older women, who often have smaller pensions (if any) yet typically live longer than men.
2. Accelerating advances in women’s workforce competencies through professional and vocational education
The participants urge the public and private sectors, including educational institutions, to:
- Continue to develop, in partnership with public and private financial institutions and banks, innovative and easily accessible digital financial products to increase women’s access to financial services.
- Expand digital access for women and girls by improving infrastructure (broadband and enabling devices), especially in remote and rural areas, and ensure access to STEM education and training to improve digital skills and fluency.
- Engage the public and private sectors in STEM skills education to support the development of women’s training and careers, and to ensure the gender-inclusive development of digital technologies, including gender-sensitive ethical guidelines on artificial intelligence (AI).
- Apply a gender lens to measure the digital economy by tracking the impact on women of AI- and tech-led shifts in demand for jobs and skills, and of AI- and tech-led shifts in growth.
3. Investing in the development of women-owned businesses in all countries
The participants urge the public and private sectors, including financial institutions, to:
- Strengthen public and corporate procurement policies and practices to make them gender-inclusive, including introducing measures to create a ‘diversity dividend’ through increased job creation and economic growth.
- Increase support to blended finance initiatives to provide more funding to social impact enterprises that focus on developing creative and effective solutions for underserved groups in emerging economies; many of these underserved groups consist of women.
- Apply a comprehensive gender assessment to financing decisions, in particular going beyond looking at women in leadership positions to consider the quality of products or services, the quality and composition of management teams, projected outcomes, the quality and number of jobs created, and potential impact.