NROP: COVID-19 is Killing Women’s Rights.

What has been the number one thing on your mind lately?

Is the answer COVID-19?

Or maybe the upcoming election?

I would not fault you for either. After all, most of us are dealing with a pandemic of such proportions for the first time. It is so powerful that it affects numerous facets of our lives. And the election… Whichever side you are on, you must be feeling nervous. If things will not go your way, things might get complicated. No, let me rephrase that – whatever the outcome, things WILL get complicated.

If your answer was different, please share in the comment section. I would like to know what occupies your thoughts as of late.

What I am also curious about is if any of you can say, with hand on heart, that gender equality has been burning a hole in their brain in the recent weeks or months. I have to say that it is probably something that is at the bottom of my list right now.

Maybe that is only yet another reason to call myself “privileged.”

Did you know that the United Nations held a virtual conference last week, during which women’s rights was the main topic on the agenda? The meeting was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1995 women’s conference in Beijing. Why was that event so memorable? It was then that various nations agreed to legal equality (Beijing Platform for Action). There were three other conferences before the one in Beijing. I am not sure why they occurred every five years in the beginning and then had a ten-year-long break. Maybe because things have gotten better?

– Held in Mexico City in 1975 

– Resulted in the Declaration of Mexico on the Equality of Women and Their Contribution to Development and Peace

The first world conference on women

– Held in Copenhagen in 1980 

– Acknowledged the gap between rights being secured for women and women’s ability to exercise those rights

– Agreed that equal access to education, employment opportunities, and adequate health care services were essential to achieve the goals set out in Mexico

Second world conference on women

– Held in Nairobi in 1985 

– Decided progress in women’ equality could be measured by examining: constitutional and legal measures, equality in social participation, equality in political participation, and decision-making.

– Acknowledged that women need to participate in all areas of human activity, not just those areas that relate to gender.

third world conference on women

I am sad to say, but it looks to me like the same issues are being discussed time and time again. It is great to talk, brainstorm, and plan, but sometimes you just need to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

During the virtual meeting last week, the German Chancellor – Angela Merkel said that we still have “a long way to go” when women’s rights are concerned. During that same conference, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said: “COVID-19 has emphasized and exploited the continued denial of women’s rights. Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the massive social and economic impact of the pandemic.”

Did you understand the quote? I know I did not. While I have been saying for a while now that people will learn to blame everything on the coronavirus soon enough, I did not know how far that would go. Are we really saying that the pandemic is sexist?

A Tweet from @UN_Women on COVID19 gender-based relief programs.

So, now we are supposed to help women differently than men when it comes to illnesses and natural disasters? I thought we were all equal. All human.

What are some of the measures featured in that study? Those could be helplines (for women), shelters (for women), paid sick leave (for women), cash transfers (for women). Yes, I do realize that unemployed women have a higher chance of being physically abused than men, especially during lockdown. But those actions are meant to also help women who were employed but might have suffered economically due to the pandemic. What about all the men who lost their jobs? Should they just “take it like a man?”

At the meeting last week, officials asked for women’s rights not to be pushed aside during a pandemic. While I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that women should have the same rights as men, I also believe that priorities shift and change. Do we have to focus on reproductive rights of young girls while we are not sure if that girl will even survive the pandemic to reach maturity? If we focus on helping women and men die, we will not have to think about women’s reproductive rights in the future. Is that the goal?

The UN Secretary also spoke about governments issuing money to women for their “care work.” What about all the stay-at-home dads? Would it be fair if they did not get any money while their female counterparts did? And then, would it not make sense for people to quit their jobs just to claim “care work?”

If you think that those conferences and talking about issues actually help, take a closer look at China. They made a substantial donation towards UN Women and offered to host the next Women’s Conference in five years but they are also the country that killed baby girls because they were not boys or because there were too many kids in the family. Yes to full-grown women, but no to defenseless girls?

There will be a forum next year, during which women’s rights will be discussed in Paris. I wonder what that will change.

One of my blogging friends shared an interesting photo with me recently.

Women’s only parking [by Andrea]

To those who are not sure what to make of it – this is a sign indicating that that particular parking spot is for women only. These appear to actually be quite old – they were first introduced in the 90s. Back then, they were mostly for women’s safety – near well lit areas, close to the exit to minimize the risk of getting raped. Now, these spaces are sometimes beautifully decorated and are also wider. Is that good or bad? Is that propagating the stereotype that women are bad at parking? How many of you would park in that spot even if you are not a woman? Would you “identify” as one then?

It was interesting to also find out that there are separate trains for women in Japan so they can avoid unwanted groping. Does that teach men not to grope or does that make them hungrier for when they actually get to be around a woman?

Maybe I am not understanding the issue correctly. If that is the case, please feel free to explain to me in easier terms how COVID-19 negatively impacts women (and not men, too).

I realize that I might have made a statement or two in this post that might have stirred you. Talk to me. Let me know what made you uncomfortable and why.

Stay golden,

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34 thoughts on “NROP: COVID-19 is Killing Women’s Rights.

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  1. I agree with Angela Merkel we have a long way to go. Including educating women. Parking spots for women is a good idea. I always parked in the evening close to the store entrance. Trains in Australia at least in Melbourne the last carriage was reserved for women in the evening this was comforting to know there was a member of staff on watch. Also if a man dared to enter this reserved area he was made to feel like a criminal with the glares from women and children.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Uh, this post was extremely interesting to read. BUT. I was dismayed to discover that meetings about women’s rights don’t do much. Que surprise? Not so much really. It’s a grand thing that we have these equality ‘rules’ now, I cannot imagine being considered a piece of property by somebody who happened to get a “Y” chromosome instead of two Xs like me. My mother, who was raised by a woman who didn’t like men in general (she liked them enough to get married, grandma’s divorce made her bitter and she hated men thereafter), raised me to stand up and be counted, despite where I live (Utah, United States), and the fact that I’m lacking a penis. I do hope the panel at those women’s rights conferences are comprised mostly of women. Because how can a man understand the real issues that women face, even in 2020? Reblogging this excellent piece of writing for others to enjoy! Great job!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the reblog, Melanie!
      I don’t see why one human being should be inferior to another. Some women will refuse to be stay-at-home moms, while others will insist on doing so. It does not mean that one has it worse than the other. It’s personal choice and we should encourage that.

      Like

  3. I understand the idea behind not wanting separation. You are correct that it doesn’t teach men to do better. But forcing women to bear the brunt of bad behaviour while waiting for it to change, and having it exist concurrently with a legal system that tends to discount women’s experiences especially in the nature of sexual crime is also a problem.

    The pandemic is not sexist. The virus doesn’t discriminate against women. But the consequences and the responses for recovery in many places deny the reality of sexism. They presuppose an even playing field. This is not true even in the most advanced democracies.

    For instance, work at home. The breakdown of labour has not been equal. Women are taking over most of the domestic and child-related work. In addition to their paid labour. And recovery efforts don’t seem to take into account the fact that much of the burden of work re the pandemic has fallen on women.

    Viruses are gender and sex neutral. Responses are not.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Agreed that having people suffer while we look for a solution is not the answer.

      Do you think that the legal system is still on the side of the men when it comes to abuse? It seems to me that we are all now believing women, no matter the truth in those situations.

      Women are taking on more home labor. Ok, I don’t disagree with the fact that women are typically the ones who fall into that role (that is not universal, though). But how is that our business? Marriages have been falling apart because of that for generations. Isn’t that an issue for the people involved (man, woman, child) to solve? Are we really trying to have the government get involved in that?

      I mean such is life – someone always does more than the other. Lord knows I feel like the world is always on my shoulders. I have never received an extra slice of cake for that. What can I do about it? I can always choose not to accept that burden. I do get frustrated at times, but then I realize, that it is I who accept it in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that publicly, it seems like men get the short straw. I think that we see the stories in the news and consequences for those men and imagine there is a societal adjustment. That assumption is likely a mistake. What will be interesting is the data next year, if there is any real change. I doubt it, except for an increase in domestic violence which affects primarily although not exclusively women.

        The problem with the uneven division of labour being our business is that it is possible that this leads to the push out of women from the public sphere. But no, I wouldn’t put the government into the role of marriage counsellor.

        Such is life, yes, but if a society is skewed in one direction, nothing much good happens. Balance. The concept in the oldest of philosophies is the one we need most. Perhaps all elected officials, at every level, should have to take yoga.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s really hard for me to think of some of the cases we know of some lands. I get choked up thinking about the women who just do not have any agency to turn to for help. Mistreatment is just a daily part of their life and nothing is being done about it because in their culture it is no big deal.

    For my part here in London where to be honest I do not feel that being a woman is in anyway closing doors for me (perhaps doors I am not interested in) they only thing I will say is that as this year has worn on, I have started to become nervous safety-wise. I keep on witnessing crimes – I have seen with my own eyes several acts of shoplifting and aggression in the past two months. I have had my handbag grabbed (by a woman) but managed to cling on to it and in my role working for the NGS I have seen a lot of aggression from patients. I think stress is increasing and I also think that as more people start feeling the pinch, crime will increase. It makes me scared to walk home in the dark. Home is a 15-20 minute walk uphill and I have been enjoying it until now. The dark is making me feel anxious all the way home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “(B)ecause in their culture it is no big deal.” I was thinking of that when I was writing that post. We complain about arranged marriages and see them as something bad for women. But for some women, that is the way it goes. Some argue that they are uneducated but education does not equal changing minds and opinions. The West is not the guiding light on everything.

      Thank you for your honest feedback regarding discrimination (or there lack of) that you are experiencing.

      A female thief? Gasp. I guess that’s one way to fight for equality. (Sarcasm)

      I’m sorry to hear you don’t feel safe. I hope you take extra precautions to maximize your well-being.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One thing that I have heard quite a bit, which you allude to in your post, is the impact that lockdowns and closures have had on incidents of domestic violence. The increase in cases is very well documented, and certainly affects women more than men.

    Another fascinating tidbit: a couple years ago I saw a chart which show historical unemployment rates among both men and women. During economic downturns men almost always experience higher rates of unemployment than women. However, During the COVID collapse women experienced higher unemployment than men during a downturn for the first time since 1975.

    https://www.macrotrends.net/2511/unemployment-rate-men-women

    I have no idea what to make of that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sure. So what do we do? Invest in hotlines and shelters. I am all about it. But don’t make it exclusively for females. Because, how does that make the suffering men feel?

      This is my hypothesis – in the past, during economic downturns, more men would become unemployed because maybe the workplace comprised of more men then women in the first place? Now, they argue that it is because women hold positions with lower wages. There are more and more senior leadership positions occupied by women.

      “For example, in the leisure and hospitality sector, women accounted for 52% of the industry workforce, but made up 54% of job losses. In education and health services, women made up 77% of the workforce, but accounted for 83% of job losses. In retail, women made up 48% of the workforce, but accounted for 61% of job losses. And in local and state government jobs, women made up 58% of the workforce, but accounted for 63% of job losses. (Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/14/coronavirus-job-losses-disproportionately-impact-women.html) I don’t like statistics like that. It could mean that employers hate women and would rather lay them off instead of men… OOOOOR that for some reason or other, their positions are more disposable (multitude of factors).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There certainly are some fascinating statistics for those who are interested in examining them.

        I would say that inasmuch as as women are disproportionately affected by this situation it does make sense to put a greater emphasis on helping them than on helping men. But then again, at some point it becomes a bit of a Rube Goldberg Machine. If all of the secondary issues presented by our response to COVID need such urgent addressing then perhaps the underlying issue is the response itself. Maybe we shouldn’t be making things more complicated than they need to be.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. So INTERESTING. only a couple days ago I read a post how big pharmacy only test on males. Or rather there are more men who get tested on and then the drug is approved. When all the drs and pharmacists know the female body works so differently.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. you can pretty much blame anything on COVID from climate change to electoral fraud, human rights violations and domestic violence.
    Stats released by our Police Victim Friendly Unit have shown a marked in increase in domestic violence during lockdown and mostly it was a gender based violence against the women… though it was noted that a great deal of cases are under-reported esp those when the man is abused… Statistically more men have committed suicide during the lockdown phase (and generally more men tend to have higher suicide rates) but its also interesting to note they may have also killed or injured their spouses prior to this… not sure what the point is…

    Like you say we seem to have the same conversation about gender equality it seems the message is not going through or its not being communicated effectively a change in approach is needed and its not simply having trains for women alone, or banks for women only, or advocating for women led businesses only or setting up a quota system for women to have representation in government and other systems… but its a start in the process, something to do in the interim.

    I came across some some one explaining how rape prevention tactics were mostly targetted at the victim on how to not be in vulnerable situations and they did not tell the perpetrators to not do it…

    Yep we have a long way to go
    ~B

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the whole thing. It’s INSANE!

      More suicides among men. Interesting.

      Well, I understand what you’re saying, and I agree. But – if you are worried about home invasion, will you tell people not to come to your house to steal/harm you and hope that’s enough or will you mount an alarm, and maybe get some sort of a weapon or learn martial arts just in case?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t think the pandemic is the one being sexist but the approach of certain legislators further worsens issues of equality. I don’t think the pandemic is an ideal context to fight for women’s rights but it doesn’t mean that we should be ignoring certain issues rooted deep in our societies. I think a lot of it comes out to culture too. Take the trains in Japan, for example, it’s a cultural phenomenon where men have abused their power and gotten away with sexual conduct and the separation is the quickest solution found to raise awareness. What’s done through publicity and whatnot is what will help reduce cases until the day comes where there’s enough room inside trains to fit so many people in (they are also quite overpopulated there too)…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear a lot of generalization and not many specifics on this topic. That usually makes me suspicious. If you don’t have evidence, you paint a pretty picture.

      Separation (whether by gender or by race) is an experiment I am willing to watch. Back in the day (and still in some schools today), males were separated from females in schools. In the end, both genders began to attend same schools. Did that separation cause the future issues of “inequality?”

      I worry that separation is like intubation sometimes- once you make it happen, it’s hard to undo it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. One of the outcomes of lockdown is the fact that if a marriage was marginal it exacerbated the problems. There have been more divorced, and an upswing in domestic abuse. Alcoholism and depression are on the rise.

    I think the problem is larger than women’s rights. We, as a world, are being forced into “cattle cars” of thought and accepting what we are told out of fear. At the end of this ride, if we don’t find a way out, is a world government that will decide who lives, and who goes to slaughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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