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How Women Can Break the Bias

The “shadow pandemic” of sexual and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 crisis shows that it will be up to women themselves to topple the structural hurdles that have left them vulnerable. Fortunately, the past two years have shown that this is possible, with many examples revealing how all of society benefits.

MONROVIA – Since 1911, societies around the world have dedicated days, months, and even decades (in Africa’s case) to celebrating women’s achievements and promoting solutions to new and persistent challenges. But over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded the plight of women to outsize proportions, sharply highlighting the urgency of this year’s International Women’s Day theme: “Break the Bias.”

The onus is on us, the world’s women, to fulfill this charge. Relying on our own ingenuity, we must shift our focus, refresh our global discourse, and usher in a new era for women’s leadership.

There is no doubt that women have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s costs. Many were forced to shelter from a silent enemy that we now know to be less lethal than their own closest kin. Many women were victims of what UN Women calls the “shadow pandemic,” suffering beatings, rape, insults, and psychological trauma in what should have been a safe haven from a biological scourge.