Why We Need Gender-Responsive Central Banking
Now that the pandemic has deepened a wide range of gender disparities and imposed a disproportionately large toll on women, central banks must recognize that they have a role to play in reversing these trends. Better economic conditions for women will mean a stronger recovery for all.
NEW YORK – The coronavirus pandemic has hit women especially hard, particularly where they are most vulnerable: their incomes, health, and safety. Women make up the majority of workers in many of the sectors of our economies that came to a standstill last year. Making matters worse for women, health systems have cut or delayed sexual and reproductive health services to streamline treatment for COVID-19. And lockdowns and curfews have coincided with a spike in domestic violence.
These problems foretell a protracted reduction in women’s capacity to join the labor force, repay loans, post collateral, or start businesses. Worse, these threats to national economies could become permanent, unless policymakers act swiftly. That includes central banks, which have a number of tools for combating the pandemic’s worst effects on women.
The problem, of course, is that central banks are notoriously male-dominated institutions. Historically, they have never made gender a priority in the design and execution of policies affecting monetary positions, bank regulation, deposit insurance, or bond issuance. Changing this pattern will require four shifts in the policymaking process.