World Bank says critical measures are needed to return women to the workforce after the pandemic

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Indian women wait in a queue for food in New Delhi.
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The World Bank has warned that critical measures need to be taken during the pandemic recovery to get women back to work and on the path to gender equality.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing gender gaps, and now more than ever, additional efforts are needed to move women forward, Caren Grown, global director of the World Bank Group, told CNBC on Friday.

“While everyone has faced the same storm, it has really differentially impacted men and women,” Grown told “Squawk Box Asia.”

For instance, though the death rate from Covid-19 has generally been higher among men, women have been more adversely impacted socially and economically, she said.

That’s due in part to women’s disproportionate representation in hard-hit industries, such as hospitality and tourism, ut also because of the additional caregiving duties they typically face.

It was always called the shadow pandemic, but as we think about recovery we actually have to put in place stronger responses.
Caren Grown
global director, World Bank Group

Even before the pandemic, the World Bank estimated it could take 150 years for women to achieve gender equality with men. The health crisis has likely extended that timeline.

To help overcome those disparities, Grown said ensuring equitable access to vaccines would be critical. That includes making sure women have the time and means to make their appointments.

Beyond that, further financial and caregiving support is needed to get the hardest-hit women back on their feet and into work.

Finally, more safeguards need to be put in place against gender-based abuse, she said.

“Something that has been exposed during this pandemic is the increases in gender-based violence,” said Grown. “It was always called the shadow pandemic, but as we think about recovery we actually have to put in place stronger responses and preventative measures.”

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