Business

four less-obvious tactics the COVID-19 pandemic is marginalizing ladies

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Ivanka Trump may have a Goya beans problem, the ‘Bumble’ name gains new prominence, and Melinda Gates demands action to address women’s marginalization amid the pandemic. Have a peaceful Thursday.

– ‘Gender-blind is not gender-neutral.’ Fortune has spilled a lot of digital ink in recent months covering how the pandemic is hurting women disproportionately. We’ve focused primarily on women’s enormous childcare burden, their higher rate of joblessness, and—for those still employed—their increased likelihood of quitting. We revisited a few of these topics just yesterday.

Now a new op-ed by Melinda Gates in Foreign Affairs reveals how women worldwide are being marginalized in less obvious ways.

—A cutback in maternal care due to overwhelmed health care systems could claim the lives of up to 113,000 women

—Lack of access to contraceptives (as countries hoard primary ingredients) is expected to lead to 15 million additional unplanned pregnancies.

—Women’s businesses are often smaller than men’s and earn less revenue, meaning they may have a harder time qualifying for government assistance programs.

—Governments’ cash handouts can overlook women because women are less likely to show up on payrolls, have formal IDs, and own a mobile phone.

It’s vital, Gates argues, that policymakers consider women’s unique disadvantages as they work to mitigate the pandemic’s blow. “‘Gender-blind is not gender-neutral’ is a refrain among advocates for women and girls,” she writes. “In this crucial moment, it must also be a call to action.”

Some countries are already answering that call. As Gates notes, Canada has set aside benefits specifically for women’s enterprises, Argentina is procuring masks from domestic workers, and Kenya and Bangladesh offer phone and data plans that are priced and marketed for women.

Alongside the stark marginalization of women lies opportunity. A McKinsey report out yesterday finds that taking action to promote gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030 compared to a gender-regressive scenario. And that action is needed now. Delaying it until after the pandemic ends could cost the global economy $5 trillion.

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Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com

@clairezillman

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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