What characteristics should a transformative policy to address gender inequality have?


Despite numerous international commitments, gender inequality remains one of the fundamental causes of exclusion in the world. The most recent data attest to the fact that gender inequality leads to a multitude of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) deficiencies. Addressing gender inequalities is indeed a prerequisite for the protection, respect, and fulfillment of the right to sexual and reproductive health.

Gender inequality, harmful gender norms, and stigma remain prevalent. Disparities are pervasive, and girls, women, and transgender people continue to be disproportionately discriminated against across their economic, social, and political lives. This is therefore a barrier to sustainable development as highlighted by the inclusion of a stand-alone sustainable development goal to achieve gender equality and empower all youth and women. For years, international organizations have been taking pioneering actions to transform gender norms and achieve gender equality in order to improve the sexual and reproductive health situation. Gender equality is a basic human right. Ensuring universal access to this right
for all is therefore essential to achieving gender equality. However, transforming gender relations will require changing their structural foundations. Women, girls and transgender people should be able to lead lives free of violence and discrimination. They should have the opportunity to develop their potential and have access to a wide range of resources, just like their opposite sex counterparts. To advance gender equality and empower girls and women, it is imperative that governments provide quality services, education, and social conditions that enable women to maintain their sexual and reproductive health, and to use their skills wherever they feel comfortable.


Here we will address gender equality issues in a set of four priority outcomes and components. We will do this by strengthening the leadership of girls and women and by promoting policies and laws that permanently eliminate gender inequalities. We will seek to engage constructively to address harmful norms and norm-based practices. We will incorporate a gender-sensitive approach and ensure that addressing gender-based violence is an important component of integrated and comprehensive programs. Gender equality, the concept that all people should be treated equally to ensure equal opportunities and outcomes, is a human right. Only through gender equality can the best state of sexual and reproductive health be achieved, a fact that has been recognized in international public policy. For example, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognize the indispensable role of gender equality in achieving sustainable development.


While African countries were not expecting it, the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic as a true disruptive force has destabilized and even silenced their economies. While the impact of Covid-19 has spared no sector, it is important to identify and acknowledge the different ways in which the crisis has affected men and women, and to highlight the specific mechanisms by which the epidemic has affected women and girls, particularly those already at risk. This development will therefore enable organizations in Africa, development partners, and governments to identify the major impacts of the crisis on women and girls to be taken into account in socio-economic impact assessments related to the pandemic with the ultimate goal of developing policy actions to mitigate these impacts and lay the groundwork for a remedial effort that takes into account the needs of girls and women. Thus, to better understand these impacts on different population and gender groups, we will conduct prospective analyses on different sectors, including the water and sanitation and hygiene sector, the unpaid caregiving sector, and why this is so important.

The Covid-19 pandemic, far from being a simple pandemic, has a different impact on men and women because of the differentiation observed in socioeconomic roles and existing gender inequalities. The general measures called social distancing barriers and the economic downturn resulting from the crisis have hit women in vulnerable jobs the hardest. The syntagms of women at risk who are particularly vulnerable to the crisis are informal sector workers, domestic workers and day laborers, girls living in food insecure households, refugee women and girls, victims of gender-based violence, health sector workers and elderly women.


Barrier measures, especially social distancing, were more likely to affect women working in the informal sector as well as daily wage workers. Some have lost their jobs or have seen their incomes reduced considerably, as is the case for domestic workers. Others, however, have seen their incomes and livelihoods significantly reduced as a result of mobility restrictions, border closures, or the closure of certain large gathering places. 87 percent of women work in the informal sector, 70 percent of women work in agriculture.

In April 2020, it was estimated that one month of containment with the installation of the cordon sanitaire, generated several thousand cases of domestic violence against women, which already concerned one in three women in the world each year. During its first year, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted access to contraceptive methods for thousands of women, resulting in thousands of unwanted pregnancies.


The burden of unpaid care work within households has increased due to the CHD crisis, as mobility restrictions have limited the availability of domestic work and other household support services. Women do 4 times as much work as men and this pattern has largely increased during the crisis. It is likely, then, that women are shouldering the heavy burden of unpaid care work during this difficult health period for most countries of the world. Despite the global expansion of the pandemic, the consequences of gender-based violence have increased exponentially, and the crisis has contributed in several ways. First, social distancing measures, and in particular the installation of the cordon sanitaire in Benin, for example, has worsened the situation of victims of domestic violence who have been confined with their aggressors in conditions of increased stress. Confinement has also increased internet use, especially by young people, and may increase the exposure of young girls to cybercrime and gender-based violence. Second, the erosion of household livelihoods may lead to an increase in harmful practices against women and girls, such as trafficking, early marriage, and the adoption of coping strategies involving transactional sex.

Immediate reporting and support services have also been more difficult to access due to mobility restrictions, and essential services, including life-saving care such as mental health, clinical rape management, and psychosocial support, can be disrupted when health and social service providers are overburdened and focused on managing the pandemic.

Characteristics must have a transformative policy to address gender inequality 

To eliminate gender inequality, governments must put in place policies that follow several rules, namely

Rule 1: Governments shall adopt transformative policies that promote respect for and protection of gender equality and the empowerment of women to exercise their capabilities everywhere.

Indeed, gender equality will only become a reality if there is political will for gender equality and the protection of the human rights of all citizens, especially those of girls and women in all their diversity. A simple declaration by governments or public authorities on the need to transform harmful practices and norms will therefore not be enough. A necessary step in this direction is the study and adoption of laws aimed at fighting against gender inequality and also to elaborate measures that guarantee the application. For this, the existence of non-discriminatory legislation regarding gender equality is mandatory. It must be comprehensive, including all individuals in all their diversity.

Rule 2: Develop policies that allocate sufficient resources to gender programs and define budget lines at the macro level.

Government commitment to gender equality through national policy is evidenced here by national budget allocations for the implementation of relevant gender transformative strategies and by compliance and enforcement of relevant laws.

Rule3 : To this end, in all ministries, public programs for the promotion of respect for human rights and for implementation shall adopt a published gender perspective, to the extent possible.

This information is important for assessing progress and understanding appropriate interventions. Presence of mechanisms for meaningful CSO participation in advocating for and advancing gender equality.
Civil society should see opportunities to support and objectively evaluate budgets, projects, and strategies to ensure their gender transformative potential and to include community representation, especially of women and youth in all their diversity.

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