COVID recovery and attitudes to building back better on gender equity

International women's day March 2021
Monday 29 March 2021

The Global Institute for Women's Leadership at King's College London, together with Ipsos MORI released a 28 country study on COVID recovery and attitudes to building back better on gender equity for International Women's Day 2021. 

While most respondents considered the impacts of COVID-19 would be the same on both women and men (61%), 15% of Australians thought it would be much more or a little more negative for women. 

Globally, closing the gender pay gap is potentially at risk of stalling as people are divided over whether it should be a priority right now. Reflecting the global results, two in five Australians think that closing the gender pay gap is important but should not be a priority right now. Disappointingly, one in five of all Australian respondents (21%) thought concerns about the gender pay gap were an example of political correctness going too far, and 14% considered it to be fake news.

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women has been much talked about, and it's clear that gender inequality remains an issue which concerns both men and women across the world. But what these findings show is that for many people, beating the pandemic is their first priority before wanting to turn to inequality issues like the gender pay gap. As we do start to beat this pandemic, however, we need to ensure that societies around the world begin to refocus on important issues like gender inequality and that women are not overlooked in the recovery."  Kelly Beaver, Managing Director of Ipsos MORI Public Affairs

When asked what the most important characteristics for a political leader to handle the COVID-19 recovery, Australians identified putting their country's need before politics, being honest with the public, and trusting experts/scientific evidence for decisions as the top priorities. 

Australian respondents identified 'more flexible working practices, such as working from home and working part time' as the most important thing to ensure the recovery after COVID-19 addresses issues facing women. This was followed by 'better mental health support services' and 'more support for women and girls who face violence and abuse'.

"It's been said that we're at a coronavirus crossroads: we face a choice between building back better or allowing progress on gender equality to stall or even be reversed. As the world decides which path to take, the good news is that the vast majority of people recognise that closing the gender pay gap is important. The bad news is that in many countries, people are less clear it should be a top priority right now, as we begin to rebuild society. But if we're to have any chance of ensuring women don't lose out further because of the crisis, we need to keep this issue high on the agenda."  Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair of the Global Institute for Women's Leadership

For further information on the study and a copy of the report, visit the website of our sister institute at King's College London.

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Updated:  29 March 2021/Responsible Officer:  Institute Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications