The coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt political processes around the world. Seventy-three elections have been postponed. Many parliaments have suspended or limited their activities, and over a hundred countries have restricted citizens’ freedom of assembly and expression in the name of public health. Authoritarian and authoritarian-leaning leaders have further taken advantage of the emergency to concentrate power in the executive branch.
Few analyses have probed the gendered consequences of these trends. In the media, the main narrative about gender and pandemic politics has centered on the perceived effectiveness of female politicians in responding to the crisis—including Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand. Yet these positive headlines conceal a more worrisome global picture: the pandemic’s profound political and socioeconomic effects could halt or reverse advances in women’s political inclusion.
The pandemic hit at a time when feminist advocates around the world were preparing to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action and making a new push to realize its progressive commitments. Although the past two and a half decades have brought significant progress in women’s political participation, the overall pace of change has been slow and uneven. In many places, progress toward gender equality in public life has stagnated in recent years, threatened by illiberal and authoritarian actors seeking to roll back past gains.
Click here to read the full article published by Carnegie Endowment on 17 November 2020.