Opinion: A Solution to the Economic Turmoil of COVID-19: Gender parity
April 30 2020

Felicia Davis
Crain’s Chicago Business

The COVID-19 crisis shines a blinding spotlight on the systemic, racial, and gender inequity that I and many other women of color have directly experienced in our lives. It’s no surprise that this pandemic is affecting women and communities of color at higher rates than other populations. These communities, especially women, have been continuously plagued with unequal pay and low-wage jobs, have faced inadequate access to comprehensive and unbiased health care, and have carried the burden of unpaid care work.

Today, as this virus rages on, women are disproportionately finding themselves on the front lines of this fight, with 78 percent of all healthcare and social assistance workers being women. A recent report released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research highlights just how deep these disparities run. Since February, 701,000 jobs have been lost across the U.S., the majority—nearly 60 percent—by women. While this data is likely already outdated, with these numbers just continuing to climb, one fact remains the same—women, already falling behind in terms of pay, are losing their jobs at a higher rate than men.

Racial disparity in COVID deaths proves to us what we already know …
As unemployment rates among women continue to rise, the number of families who are left without an income, find themselves unable to fulfill responsibilities that were already difficult to manage when they HAD an income.

As this pandemic continues to ravage our communities, this is our moment to reshape the systems that continue to hold women and communities of color back with a push for gender parity. In fact, without gender parity, the U.S. is losing trillions of dollars. According to a 2019 equity report by Pipeline, for every 10 percent increase in gender equity toward parity, there was a 1 to 2 percent increase in business revenue. So this is no longer a question of whether we can afford to do this, instead, it’s a question of whether we can afford not to.

So how do we do this? At an organizational level, work across industries must be equally valued without regard to gender or race. There must also be policies implemented that promote increased acceptance and flexibility for mothers returning to the workforce, paid family, medical and sick leave, and pay transparency. Additionally, we must continue to advocate for the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act, and the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress, as well as for state laws that support women in the workforce and help narrow the gender pay gap.

Our future, locally, nationally, and globally, is going to be challenging, but everyone should be considered as we figure out “what’s next?” Ultimately, we have two choices: to keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes, or take this opportunity to reset whom we value in our society.

Why not make racial equality and gender parity, in our lifetimes, part of that solution?

Felicia Davis is president and CEO of the Chicago Foundation for Women.

Read the original article here.