Gender equality and post-covid social protection

The covid left its very marked mark on women in all their diversity in the world. We already know it, and it has been widely described in the country, in the region and in the world. The problem and real challenge is how to overcome it. How and to what extent solutions to old problems are sought, because this was a problem that already existed and had not been solved, some measures had been applied to reduce it, but it was still there. Now it is not possible not to see it and look for a solution, that is the difference.

This and other solutions to the problems of women and girls in all their diversity, that is, including people from the LGBTQI+ community, is what a meeting of experts convened by the United Nations to which I was invited was analyzing this week. The meeting considered since 2017, when the last evaluation of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal-SDG 5 of “gender equality” was carried out to date; covid through what happened? What do the ambitious goals approved in 2015 by all the governments of the world show? This balance was accompanied by the search and elaboration of proposals to offer to the governments. It should be clarified that although the 17 SDGs that make up the 2030 Agenda are related and not totally divisible, SDG 5 is one of the most transversal and is linked to all the others. That is why this SDG is essential for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

A key point considered in the group of experts was the modalities of social protection that go beyond the benefits of social security. Social protection raises and refers to the measures that are independent of the labor condition, to which social security is linked, either because of their status as a worker or as a family member associated with a worker.

Social protection refers to the benefits that all people due to their status as such have based on the socioeconomic rights recognized in the International Convention on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights. That is why they are universal, that is, applicable to all people, hence their importance and magnitude, and they must promote gender equality. Given the high proportion of women in the country, in the region and in the world who work in the informal sector, that is, without social security benefits, it is necessary to define how the benefits of social protection reach them.

It is a very large contingent to which are added now, after covid, the unemployed, due to the loss of their jobs in the formal sector and the suspension in the informal sector that increased poverty. Although the IFE or emergency family aid was created in the country, which the Government provided to women and families in the most affected sectors, this is not a permanent measure. The group recommended the creation of policies that support families beyond child care, which is basic and must be ensured up to the preschool level, which already corresponds to the education sector, that is, the existence of care services for the elderly, disabled, mentally ill, among others, who must integrate social protection measures. This will increase the formal labor participation of many women who work as caregivers in the informal sector of work.

Another recommended measure is the development and coverage of essential health services according to the WHO, such as sexual and reproductive health, which ranges from comprehensive sex education to access to voluntary termination of pregnancy, including contraception, pre and postnatal and delivery care. These measures that seem obvious are not, and governments must prioritize them and receive the support of UN agencies to implement them as soon as possible. If adequate development and coverage of both measures are achieved in the country, a key step in advancing social protection will have been taken.

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Gender equality and post-covid social protection