okoro1_EBRAHIM HAMIDAFP via Getty Images_genderinequalitycourtprotest Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Will COVID-19 Widen the Gender Justice Gap?

Globally, women have only three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men, with the worst inequalities relating to family relationships, employment, control of economic assets, and violence. Ensuring that the current pandemic does not deepen these disparities is therefore crucial.

WASHINGTON, DC – Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 billion people face legal problems they cannot resolve, while 4.5 billion – particularly women, the poor, and other vulnerable people – are excluded from the protections and opportunities that the law provides.

True, the news is not all bad. United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 aims to “provide access to justice for all,” while multidimensional poverty measures increasingly consider justice-related indicators. Moreover, enhanced data-collection methods and more readily available global and national statistics have improved the measurement of justice gaps and filled critical data voids.

But COVID-19 is creating further obstacles to equal access to justice, especially for women. Pandemic responses are likely to be heavily gendered, meaning that migrant, disabled, and indigenous women are doubly disadvantaged. Ensuring that the current crisis does not widen existing gender-based legal disparities is therefore crucial.

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