Statement International Board
Guarantee women's livelihoods now
Women worldwide save lives while holding families and communities together: guarantee their livelihoods now!
It is mostly women everywhere who are doing the most dangerous and the most important work as the world struggles to overcome the corona crisis. The women work as paid workers and as the ones responsible for working in the home, unpaid.
The paid women, much more than men, work in jobs and professions that are systemically necessary in coping with COVID-19. Women are over-represented in the often dangerous care work in hospitals as nurses and doctors, in care homes for elderly persons and others who require such care, and in childcare. As cleaners and as frontline workers in supermarkets and grocery stores they are working hard. Because of close contact with people is inevitable in these professions, they are exposed to an increased risk of infection. These women are often forced to work without necessary protective gear and risk their own health and that of others, especially those closest to them. They are poorly paid, quite often without adequate or any benefits such as health insurance. And they are generally undervalued as service workers. They serve without the visibility and appreciation they so richly deserve.
Most of the unpaid workers in the world are also women. During this time of confinement inside the home, women bear the major burden of looking after the children, home schooling and doing homework with them, caring for other members of the household, and generally organising the home front so others can function better. For many, all these responsibilities are in addition to the paid work outside the home.
Although women worldwide do the most significant proportion of the direct care work, outside and inside the home, that keeps societies functioning, they have no real voice and little visibility in public. Men are presented and perceived as the experts, and dominate all media outlets. Even though there are many very qualified women experts in virology, epidemiology, and economy worldwide, mostly men speak on TV, radio, or social media and they receive the biggest coverage in print media. We are given the (false) impression that men are saving the world. Right now it’s mostly women who work hard to overcome the crisis and are exposed to risk.
National governments must invest most of the national financial resources to pay the women frontlines workers what they truly deserve – guaranteed livelihoods – rather than expending obscene amounts for “saving” transnational corporations and large companies. Now is the opportunity to proclaim and demonstrate, in real terms: we value and appreciate the women who are among those helping us to stay healthy, to recover if sick, and to live!
Kamla Bhasin and Ruth-Gaby Vermot, Co-Presidents PeaceWomen Across the Globe
Members of the International Board: Sandy Fong, Kin Chi Lau, Margret Kiener Nellen, Christine Menz, Alejandra Miller Restropo, Cecile Mukarubuga, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Marina Pikulina, Susanne Schneeberger