While COVID-19 has had a major effect on everyone’s lives, women and girls have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Representing 70 percent of the global health care workforce, they have been exposed to a greater risk of infection. Bearing the brunt of extra child care and housework, they have been facing higher risk of losing their jobs or income. Violence against women, especially domestic violence, has also soared.

The devastating impacts of the coronavirus on women and girls are numerous and could have set equality back decades, experts say. But rather than being the root cause, COVID-19 has aggravated and made visible long-standing inequalities in all regions of the world.

Pre-existing inequalities that, now more than ever, weigh on women and girls, and on our societies’ ability to recover from this crisis and face tomorrow’s challenges.

Ensuring through concrete actions and initiatives equal access to education, health care and opportunities in all sectors of the economy and professional fields, as well as fair representation and participation in public life for all girls and women, is not only a question of basic human rights, it is a prerequisite for a more inclusive and sustainable world.

Gender equality can help boost economic growth, reduce child under-development, hunger and poverty rates worldwide, and contribute to tackling climate change and other environmental issues, just to mention a few examples.

Challenging historical and cultural cognitive gender biases and addressing gender-specific violence and discrimination can inspire the profound cultural shift necessary to create a renewed collective identity in which all citizens share the same rights, privileges and duties.

Some are already taking the steps to make this happen. Women, men, nations, institutions, companies and NGOs across the globe are coming up with innovative, creative and impactful ways to address local gaps and gender-based global issues. At their level, and through their initiatives or through new policies, they are pushing forward not only women’s rights but society at large.

The media are key in blowing this wind of change. By looking at the world’s problems through a gender lens, they can help create more diverse, progressive and inclusive narratives for the greater good. That’s why Sparknews is inviting 15 news media outlets around the world to cover these stories, hoping to raise awareness and share the solutions that already exist and are building our future.

Taking place just a few days before the Generation Equality Forum (June 30-July 2), held by UN Women and the French government, which will bring together governments, corporations and change makers from around the world to define and announce investments and policies for gender equality, this unique editorial collaboration will hopefully contribute to pushing back boundaries and paving the way to a more inclusive world.

--The Sparknews Team


This article is being published as part of “Towards Equality,” an international and collaborative initiative gathering 15 international news outlets to highlight the challenges and solutions to reach gender equality. The Asahi Shimbun is participating in this campaign spearheaded by Sparknews.

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