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Summary

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the world’s social and economic inequalities and vulnerabilities. It has painfully demonstrated once again that in times of crisis women’s livelihoods and jobs are more at risk than men’s.
  • At a time when policymakers need to restore confidence, preserve financial stability and revive growth (while aligning short-term actions to medium- and long-term sustainable objectives), inclusive rebuilding is an imperative, not an option. Catalysing the economic potential of women is one of the most powerful solutions at policymakers’ disposal for addressing these challenges. Furthermore, focusing on gender equality now could add $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
  • Governments, still predominantly male-dominated, tend to view physical infrastructure as the key to solving the economic crisis. However, in the current circumstances social infrastructure is at least equally important. The pandemic has reminded policymakers and business leaders of the importance of healthcare, childcare and education to individuals, societies and the economy. Investing in social infrastructure accelerates job creation: it is estimated that doubling investments in the care economy in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 would create 475 million jobs, of which 117 million would be additional new jobs. Such investment would also remove barriers to workforce participation and provide the foundations for resilient societies and a strong, healthy economy. Now more than ever, our communities need to be ‘care-ready’ rather than ‘shovel-ready’.
  • The following COVID-19 recovery action plan has been informed by the insights of global thought leaders in a series of events convened by the Chatham House Gender and Inclusive Growth Initiative from 16 June to 15 July 2020. More than 80 experts developed recommendations to help governments and corporations harness the economic power of women in driving the economic recovery from the pandemic, and in supporting sustainable, gender-inclusive growth. The plan advocates action in three principal areas:
    1. Investing in social infrastructure and family-friendly policies;
    2. Accelerating advances in women’s workforce competencies through professional and vocational education; and
    3. Investing in the development of women-owned businesses in all countries.
  • The plan includes practical examples of successful programmes and strategic policies currently boosting growth in both developed and developing economies. Above all, it emphasizes the importance of ensuring that recovery policies create a more gender-equal world in which all – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, education, wealth or geographic region – can benefit.