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Women in Leadership Post-COVID-19: Building a New Paradigm

While progress toward a greater representation of women in senior leadership roles has been significant in recent years, research shows that progression has slowed, with the emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic further unbalancing the uneven field women were already playing on.

One area where the impact of the pandemic on women’s leadership has been particularly evident is in the composition of COVID-19 government task forces around the world, where men outnumber women by three to one – a disproportionate representation that many expect will hamper women’s recovery from the pandemic and perpetuate gender divisions.

According to the UNDP’s ‘COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker’, which analyses government pandemic policies, women, on average, still make up only 24 percent of members among 262 government COVID-19 task forces examined across 137 countries. Moreover, in 10 percent of task forces, women are excluded from leadership at even higher rates, leading only 18 percent of 414 task forces across 186 countries.

“While a number of high-profile women leaders have been in the spotlight for their impactful COVID-19 responses, women are significantly underrepresented in both membership and leadership of COVID-19 taskforces,” says Raquel Lagunas, global director of gender equality at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). “The pandemic has also shown just how deep and pervasive gender inequalities are in our political, social and economic systems.

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