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CGD in the News

The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism (The Atlantic)

March 19, 2020

From the article:

Researchers, including those I spoke with, are frustrated that findings like this have not made it through to policy makers, who still adopt a gender-neutral approach to pandemics. They also worry that opportunities to collect high-quality data which will be useful for the future are being missed. For example, we have little information on how viruses similar to the coronavirus affect pregnant women—hence the conflicting advice during the current crisis—or, according to Susannah Hares, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, sufficient data to build a model for when schools should reopen.

We shouldn’t make that mistake again. Grim as it is to imagine now, further epidemics are inevitable, and the temptation to argue that gender is a side issue, a distraction from the real crisis, must be resisted. What we do now will affect the lives of millions of women and girls in future outbreaks.

The coronavirus crisis will be global and long-lasting, economic as well as medical. However, it also offers an opportunity. This could be the first outbreak where gender and sex differences are recorded, and taken into account by researchers and policy makers. For too long, politicians have assumed that child care and elderly care can be “soaked up” by private citizens—mostly women—effectively providing a huge subsidy to the paid economy. This pandemic should remind us of the true scale of that distortion...”

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Susannah Hares
Co-Director of Education Policy and Senior Policy Fellow