Pandemic erased decades of progress – Guterres

FILE PHOTO: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., November 20, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

As the world marked its second International Women’s Day yesterday, since the onset of COVID-19, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres did not mince his words during his annual statement.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has erased decades of progress towards gender equality,” Mr Guterres said.

“From high job losses to exploding burdens of unpaid care, from disrupted schooling to an escalating crisis of domestic violence and exploitation, women’s lives have been upended and their rights eroded.”

This was revealed in the joint press statement by International Labour Organisation [ILO], United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The statement said common livelihoods for women in the Pacific such as market vending, farming, fishing and daily wage earning, had been particularly devastated, as they made up the informal sector where income was not secured and there was no insurance, paid leave or safety nets.

“Similarly, in Fiji, women crafters who are the sole breadwinners in household have experienced more home responsibilities, particularly with children and grandchildren or great grandchildren being confined. One crafter shared that she has now used up all her savings and has borrowed money and is now bartering to access the raw materials she needs,” the statement added.

The statement highlighted that as the informal sector continued to swell due to job losses and reduced working hours, the United Nations had embarked on a project aimed at supporting economic recovery through strengthening the long-term sustainability of businesses in the informal sector of Fiji, Palau, Tonga and Vanuatu.

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