Men outnumber women three to one on COVID-19 task forces

by Matthew Lavietes | @mattlavietes | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 22 March 2021 19:20 GMT

Franziska Giffey, German Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth talks to high school graduates performing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rapid tests at the Ernst-Abbe Gymnasium in Berlin, Germany, March 18, 2021. Annette Riedl/Pool via REUTERS

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By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK, March 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Men outnumber women three to one on government coronavirus task forces globally, a disparity that risks creating an unequal recovery, the United Nations warned on Monday.

Women made up just 24% of representatives on task forces set up to manage the recovery in 137 countries examined in a study by the U.N. and the University of Pittsburgh's Gender Inequality Research Lab. Of the 225 task forces, 26 had no women at all.

Multiple studies have found that the pandemic disproportionately impacts women, who have taken on a larger burden of childcare with schools closed and been more likely to suffer job losses, while domestic violence has also risen.

A lack of women in decision-making positions will only exacerbate that inequality, said U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

"It is inconceivable that we can address the most discriminatory crisis we have ever experienced without full engagement of women," she said in a statement.

"At the moment, men have given themselves the impossible task of making the right decisions about women without the benefit of women's insights."

The study found 32 countries failed to factor gender into their recovery policies and programs at all.

Four out of 10 women in employment work in the industries with most job losses - including food, retail and real estate - compared to 36.6% of men, U.N. agency the International Labour Organization has shown.

Women with children now spend an average 65 hours a week on unpaid chores - nearly a third more than fathers - according to the Boston Consulting Group, which questioned parents in five countries.

Achieving gender equality by 2030 was one of the global goals adopted by the U.N. in 2015 to tackle social ills like poverty and conflict.

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(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit

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