Blogs and Think Pieces
In his blog for International Women’s Day 2021, Francisco Cos-Montiel argues that well-designed quotas are key to progress in women's political participation. When we think of women’s leadership, however, equally essential—but also slower and more complex—is social transformation that breaks through cultural barriers to gender equality and justice.
UNRISD is pleased to announce the relaunch of its gender research programme with a new name—Gender Justice and Development—and new thinking under the leadership of Francisco Cos-Montiel, who recently joined UNRISD. In this blog Francisco sets out what directions the programme will be taking.
LGBTQI+ exclusion is not a new story. From public restrooms to houses of congress, the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons to be seen and heard have long been questioned and denied. Ensuring the inclusion of LGBTQI+ voices in all aspects of life, but particularly political decision making, is essential to achieving the rights and protection of LGBTQI+ people the world over. On the occasion of the publication of the major research outputs of the project VoiceIt: Strengthening LGBTQI+ Voices in Politics, in which UNRISD is a partner, this blog gives a brief overview of UN engagement with the issue so far and sets out how this research-action project is contributing to LGBTQI+ inclusion in politics.
This moment of reckoning demands of us reflection, and action. Action certainly in our own communities, right now, but also on national and global scales when the immediate threat fades. How can we (re-)build our social, political and economic systems to bring about lasting transformative change, that will not only leave us better prepared for future crisis events, but also bring us closer to a vision of social justice, equality and sustainability, such as that laid out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? As we seek to re-assess and recover, UNRISD’s substantial body of work provides important arguments and lessons: now more than ever, universalism in social policies; no resilience without a just transition; renewed commitments to international solidarity and multilateralism; and the role of research in making sense of the crisis.
Now more than ever, the world is at a crossroads. Not only are rapid and effective policy interventions, and massive investment, crucial to protect well-being—particularly of vulnerable groups and those at the margins of our societies. At the same time, the sheer amount of public investment to be made in a short amount of time to tackle the unfolding economic downturn presents us with an opportunity to finally put the world on a more sustainable and low-carbon path using new technologies that are now available. Time and again climate scientists, environmentalists and grassroots activists have pointed to the growing urgency of climate action, while policy makers and global elites have chosen profit over people and planet.
The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs respond to humanity’s challenge to live humanely, justly, sustainably and in peace on our interconnected globe. Pursuit of the Agenda is inevitably subject to forces that “shake and stir” it, as exemplified by the current COVID-19 pandemic. So our analytical frameworks need to be shaken and stirred too, to be more perceptive and responsive to emergent objective challenges, risks and threats, as well as subjective fears, and their impacts.
Covid-19 is revealing the weakest links and blind spots of health, social and economic systems within countries, and shining a spotlight on the differences between them. The news and analysis are touching upon diverse aspects, but in a nutshell, they talk about how systems are functioning/dysfunctioning, and how to re-produce them, or transform them, post-crisis. Regarding the latter question, there seem to be two broad camps: “Go back to normal with a quick fix” (normalization camp) and “We mustn’t go back to normal because normal was the problem” (transformation camp).
The COVID-19 crisis puts the fragility of the care economy into sharp relief. Women comprise 70% of health workers globally and even higher shares of care-related occupations such as nursing, midwifery and community health work, which all require close contact with patients. The risks these front-line workers take to save lives are compounded by poor working conditions, low pay and lack of voice in health systems where medical leadership is largely controlled by men.
The coronavirus crisis has spurred the growth of online work. The genie is not going back in the bottle and we must plan for a future of "decent digiwork".
As we tremulously open the newscasts or our inboxes each day to read of the ever increasing numbers of the Covid-19 victims, we need to “instrumentalise” this pandemic for the SDG commitments: stop all preventable premature deaths, be they from acute pandemics or from chronic conditions, build equitable health systems for all everywhere. We can use the 2030 Agenda to frame the polices we need.