mohanty1_Kazi Salahuddin RazuNurPhoto via Getty Images_woman bangladesh rice field Kazi Salahuddin Razu/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rural Women Can Drive Green Recoveries

The post-pandemic recovery packages so far proposed by Asia-Pacific governments invariably omit a key demographic: rural women. Unless policymakers quickly apply a gender perspective to their spending priorities, this large and vital group will be left behind, and the economic impact of official programs will fall short of potential.

BANGKOK – By now, most countries in Asia and the Pacific have proposed some sort of post-pandemic recovery package. Many include investments in sustainability, which the United Nations has repeatedly urged governments to undertake. Some plans currently include only budget totals, with policymakers yet to allocate the spending.

Regardless of their current level of detail, all of the region’s recovery programs omit a key demographic: rural women. Unless governments quickly bring a gender perspective to their spending priorities, this large and vital group will be left behind, and the economic impact of official programs will fall short of their potential.

Such an outcome would add insult to literal injury. Rural economies, which already had a weaker financial cushion and less access to public services than urban areas, have been besieged on three fronts: by the COVID-19 pandemic, the related economic downturn, and the relentless advance of climate change. Moreover, women have suffered more than men from the pandemic’s knock-on effects, incurring greater economic losses and mental-health burdens.

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