COVID-19 has seriously impacted the global progress towards gender equality, with women around the world continuing to face laws and restrictions that hinder their economic opportunity, according to the latest Women, Business and the Law 2021. Reforming laws toward gender equality must be a priority as governments look to recover from COVID-19.
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Evidence from outbreaks similar to COVID-19 indicates that women and girls can be affected in particular ways, and in some areas, face more negative impacts than men. In fact, there is a risk that gender gaps could widen during and after the pandemic and that gains in women’s and girls’ accumulation of human capital, economic empowerment and voice and agency, built over the past decades, could be reversed. The World Bank Group is working to ensure that projects responding to COVID-19 consider the pandemic’s different impacts on men and women.
A year ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, I was optimistic about the trends in global poverty: extreme poverty rates had been steadily declining for more than two decades. Although considerable challenges like debt still loomed large for the poorest countries, the positive trajectory in the fight against poverty brought great hope for a better future—a future I still believe in.
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