A webinar attended by participants from Central Asia, Eurasia, Africa, Latin America, East Asia, the United States, Canada, and Europe examined the intersections of gender and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yasmine Ergas, director of SIPA’s specialization in Gender and Public Policy, recently worked with Jazgul Kochkorova MIA '20, Aizhan Kamidola MPA '21, and Michele Bornstein MIA '15 to organize an webinar on “The Gendered Dimensions of the Pandemic: The Implications of Covid-19.” Participants focused on two issues: governance, civil liberties, and gender rights; and the socioeconomic impacts of both the pandemic and the policies implemented in response to its development.
The webinar took place April 17, 2020. The WGGA worked with Columbia Global Centers—including the Centers in Nairobi, Rio, Istanbul, and Tunis—and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights.
In her introduction, Ergas noted that, while public-health measures taken under emergency rule are essential to protect the public good, the temporary restriction of civil liberties can permanently alter “real constitutions,” tighten the margin for activism, and quash gender-based movements that can only thrive in the political open air. At the same time, intersectionally inflected gender-based inequalities have deepened as labor market, health, educational, financial, and infrastructural policies implemented to address the pandemic have failed to correct for them. She stressed that “there is no such thing as the benign neglect of gender inequality.” Nonetheless, the pandemic may also constitute an opportunity for advocates, academics, and policy-makers to help promote fairer social arrangements.
Speakers from Central Asia, Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Africa, and Japan discussed issues ranging from the dangers associated with authoritarian instrumentalization of the pandemic to the importance of adopting gender-based perspectives in disaster prevention, from the limits of militaristic understandings of the crisis and the specific vulnerabilities of female employment in the current recession in a variety of settings, including in developing countries.