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Women must be given leading role in coronavirus recovery, says Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates speaks openly with Oprah Winfrey - Image: Reuters

Women must be given leading role in coronavirus recovery, says Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates says the world must look to women to drive economic recovery from the pandemic.

Women must be given leading role in coronavirus recovery, says Melinda Gates

Philanthropist Melinda Gates says efforts to help the world economy recover from the coronavirus crisis must give a lead role to women, even as the pandemic deals an especially sharp blow to their jobs and finances.

Recovery policies and strategies that focus on women – and do not minimize or overlook them – will prove the most successful, the co-chair of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said in an interview this week.

“They are going to be the engines of recovery, and we will build back faster and better,” Gates told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Otherwise it’s going to be a very, very long and slow recovery in country after country around the world.”

“Get the money in the hands of women”, says Melinda Gates

Gates spoke following the publication this week of an opinion piece she wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine, in which she outlined policy proposals focused on women.

She said it was vital for policymakers to ensure emergency cash aid schemes reach women who do not have a tax number or formal identity documents.

Stimulus programs must be designed to include the smallest businesses, which are often run by women, she wrote.

“You’ve got to get the money in the hands of the women… because of the sensible decisions they make,” said Gates, who co-chairs the foundation with her husband, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

New data reveals scale of job loss for women

In the United States, women have lost more jobs than men in the pandemic, accounting for more than half the jobs lost since February, according to a labour data analysis by the National Women’s Law Center, a U.S. women’s rights non-profit.

Some 60% of job gains in June went to women, who nevertheless showed an unemployment rate of 11.2% compared with 10.2% among men, it said.

Women have also been putting in more time on unpaid labour at home with extra housework, child care, homeschooling and caring for elderly family members.

Recent research by the Boston Consulting Group found women with children now spend an average of 65 hours a week on unpaid chores, nearly a third more than fathers.

“Women are shouldering the burden of COVID-19 more than anyone else, and they are the ones who can help us get out of this situation as we build back,” Gates said.

“It’s the women who will help us with the recovery economically, if we do the right things.”

Praise for Jacinda Ardern’s COVID-19 response

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

She noted that countries such as Germany and New Zealand that have fared well in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus have women leaders.

“They just have a different lens, an aperture of society,” she said.

“Women have had to wear so many hats for so long and juggle so much that they know what everyone’s up against in society.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has recently been involved in efforts to ensure the fair allocation of potential COVID-19 vaccine availability to developing countries in the face of unprecedented demand.

It also has been working on addressing inequity in global health care and treatment of infectious diseases.

READ MORE: Research shows countries with female leaders have far fewer COVID deaths.

– Thomson Reuters Foundation

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