Women in Governance

Feminists critics have pointed out to the negative consequences of excluding women from decision making positions in policy making about COVID-19. Although women are the ones that are mostly affected by gender-based violence during COVID-19 lock downs and the vast majority of healthcare workers are women, only 25% of global leaders are female. The absence of gender balanced decision-making bodies at a global level is likely to affect how gender issues are included or marginalized in policy agendas The exclusion or marginalization of women from relevant decision-making committees is usually legitimized during crises, such as the lock-down, by arguments that stress the urgency of policy measures and requirements for high level expertise.

However, lack of consideration for gender balance in decision making may also have adverse longer-term impacts as institutional practices become consolidated. In post-coronavirus societies, the state of emergency is likely to continue for health or financial reasons pushing for further marginalization of gender issues, including gender-based violence, work-life balance and healthcare professions. Conversely, states in which women have managed to overcome sexist constraints and rise to the top of decision-making hierarchies are more likely to respond in gender sensitive ways to the COVID-19 challenge.

The examples of Iceland and Norway are showing that female led executives and institutional structures that are gender balanced may transform the ways in which the post-coronavirus society would look like, supporting positive change that has been made possible during the crisis (for example more equal sharing of household responsibilities between female and male partners) and devising strategies to prevent and fight against gender violence, discrimination and labour market inequality