Economic Justice and Rights
The COVID-19 pandemic had ripple effects on economies across the world with women bearing the brunt of the burden, manifesting in more job losses and increased insecurity. A report by McKinsey last year showed that women’s jobs were 1.8 times more vulnerable to the crisis than men’s jobs, and despite only making up 39% of global employment, women accounted for 54% of overall job losses. Among the respondents who answered the question, globally, 16.5% chose ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as the most important issue to them. When the data is broken down regionally it gives us direction to create bespoke responses to the issue based on local needs.
- In Africa, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ was the fourth most prominently chosen answer at 13.5%.
– Respondents identified the most prominent barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as being ‘political’ barriers at 46% followed by ‘economic’ barriers at 33%.
- In Asia, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ tied with ‘Environmental Justice’ as the fourth most prominently chosen answer at 12.2%.
– Respondents identified the most prominent barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as being both ‘political’ and ‘economic’ at 36%.
- In Europe, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ was the fifth most prominent response, at 17.6%
– Respondents identified the most prominent barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as being ‘political’ barriers with 45%, followed by ‘economic’ barriers at 36%.
- In the Americas, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ was the second most prominently chosen answer at 24.6%.
– Respondents identified the most prominent barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as the ‘political’ sector with 47%, followed by ‘economic’ barriers with 33%.
- In Oceania, ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ was the fourth most prominently chosen answer at 14.8%.
– Respondents identified the most prominent barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ as ‘political’ barriers with 63%, followed by ‘cultural/social’ barriers at 12%.
Furthermore, in open-ended comments reviewed only in English, issues around the economy, such as pay, parental leave and equal pay, were stated often, with hundreds of respondents mentioning the need for recognition for unpaid care work. This compliments and confirms the plans of the AC for Economic Justice and Rights’ to increase the number of countries investing and implementing laws and reforms to recognise, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work.
In every region around the globe, most of the respondents (45% of the total number who responded to the question) said the greatest barrier to progress on ‘Economic and Workers’ Rights’ was ‘political’. This data should inform the efforts and interventions of the AC for Economic Justice and Rights to focus on political influence, and to encourage member states to lead the way on policy that upholds labour practices that support women and gender-diverse people. This is particularly relevant when thinking about issues such as parental leave and unpaid care where policies globally continue to rely on women bearing the burden of this. The OECD Report on unpaid care work suggests that there is a need for society and policy makers to address the issues concerning care as this has serious implications on achieving gender equality.
In one example, a woman aged between 55 and 64 from Deal, UK cited ‘Economic Worker’s Rights’ as one of the issues most important to her, and chose ‘political’ barriers as the greatest hindrance to making progress in this area which is in line with the global trend. When asked ‘What does progress for women’s human rights look like for you in 10 years?’, she wrote: “Equal pay as a normal, not denigrating work done predominantly by women to pay them less than men doing commensurate work. (We need) tax loopholes and schemes closed so that there are abundant funds for childcare schemes for all.”
Her comments speak directly to Action 4, and the intention to “promote gender-transformative economies and economic stimulus.” By pointing to the political arena as a barrier and mentioning “tax loopholes and schemes,” the respondent highlights opportunities and focus areas the AC for Economic Justice and Rights should focus on political pressure to enact change, particularly with a focus on the UK. By working to ensure more public funds can be directed to the care economy, especially with the support from public momentum as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can “reform and implement national laws and policies on the care economy” as the Draft Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality suggests.
‘Economic justice and rights’ will be interpreted drastically differently according to each woman’s socio-economic standing and geographic location. In order to realise the elimination of gender-discriminatory policies and adopt and implement laws to ensure “strategies and investments are underway that realise women’s and girls’ access to and control over productive resources and assets,” as is the ambition of the draft Acceleration Plans for Gender Equality, the response must be bespoke to the region. The Global Count provides an insight into the national and local issues and barriers and from there, tailored approaches and interventions can be developed.