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#lWD2021: Globally, $160trn lost into gender inequality – Kwakwa

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The Vice President of World Bank Group, Victoria Kwakwa has said that globally, countries are losing US$160 trillion in wealth because of gender inequality, while in East Asia and Pacific Region (EAP), the estimate is about $40-50 trillion in human capital wealth lost.

Kwakwa disclosed this on the World Bank blog on Monday, in celebration of International Women’s Day IWD2021, lamented that COVID-19 is exposing, exacerbating gender inequalities in EAP and across the world as this has been a difficult period particularly for women hit much harder than men.

“Countries in EAP have made great strides in promoting gender equality in recent decades. Before COVID-19, the ratio of females to males enrolled in tertiary education stood at 1.15, surpassing all other developing regions except Latin America.

“The participation of women in the labor force was relatively high in Vietnam, Cambodia and China, and had increased in Indonesia. Almost half of all small, medium, and large firms were owned by women, the second highest rate in the world”, she said.

She added that women are overrepresented in the informal sector, in countries such as Fiji, where they represent less than a third of paid workers. “Women also tend to occupy jobs without basic protection mechanisms such as paid sick leave and unemployment insurance.

“The pandemic left women in EAP and worldwide more vulnerable than men to income and job loss. More women were already working in precarious service-sector jobs before the crisis, and retail, accommodation and food services have been hit hard by containment measures”, she said.

Kwakwa noted that women comprise about 70% of the health workforce globally, including in EAP, and faced a comparatively greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. “In addition, while anecdotal reports indicate a heightened risk of gender-based violence since the pandemic began, lockdowns impede women from reporting violence.

“And seeking help through traditional channels. Papua New Guinea reports a 31% decrease in the number of clients accessing gender-based violence services. Amid the challenges, however, there are also opportunities. COVID-19 making it clear that gender parity is not simply the right thing to do, but the smart way forward”, she said.


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