Third International Early Childhood Action Congress: Quality Beyond Regulations

On 30 June 2020 Gabriela Ramos delivered a keynote at the Third International Early Childhood Action Congress. Find her remarks below.

Thank you, Nathalie.

Dear Minister Melby [Minister of Education and Integration, Norway], Minister Lacombe [Minister of Family, Québec, Canada], Minister Taquet [Secretary of State in charge of Child Protection, Ministry of Solidarities and Health, France], Mr. Hidalgo [President of Ensemble for Early Childhood Education], Excellences,

Ladies and gentleman,

I am delighted to welcome you to the 3rd Early Childhood Action Congress, organised by Ensemble for Education.

The world has changed dramatically since this Congress first met two years ago.  This crisis has indeed become the greatest test to our education and care systems.

Children did not enter the crisis on an equal footing. Already before the crisis, 1 in 7 children across OECD countries grew up in poverty. Far worse for children in immigrant households, for example – with almost half of them lived in poverty in the OECD. The crisis only magnified existing inequalities and will increase risks of creating more vulnerable children, unless adequate long-term measures are put in place by governments and stakeholders.  

What is happening to ECEC and what impact on children?

In many OECD countries[1], regulated ECEC centres were ordered to close, with just a handful of exceptions to provide for children of essential workers. As a result, more than one-third of children under age 3 and almost 90% of children of age 3-5 were thrown out of the ECEC services. And this turned parents into the frontline respondents to children’s care, cognitive, social and emotional development and health.

It has never been easy for any parents to juggle between child care and work. For the most disadvantaged, it’s even more difficult as they cannot telework, their job require physical presence, while affordable ECEC are closed. And their children will suffer most. For example, their parents were less likely to read a story to them [30% less, according to our recent International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study (IELS), conducted to England, US and Estonia], which the OECD highlights as critical in developing their socio-emotional and emerging literacy skills.

Then globally, there is this ongoing challenge of the digital divide. During this crisis, not all were able to move online as half of the world’s population still do not have access to internet. Furthermore, girls could lose even more from our reliance on digital tools since they have 11% of access gap compared to boys globally. Even if a home is connected, girls in developing countries cannot even use the internet because they are often busy doing housework [3 times as much time compared to boys and men].

The crisis risks setting back the progress we have made in closing the digital gender divide.

Even if children do have access to digital tools, they might face another set of risks associated with “over-exposure” to internet. Already, the OECD Early Learning and Child Well-Being Study shows that during the crisis, 83% of 5 year-olds in England, Estonia and the United States use digital devices daily or weekly[2]. This could turn children to take an “always-on” lifestyle. Of course, the digital environment provides important opportunities for children’s learning and socialisation, but we need to be mindful of risks, especially if digital technologies are used without proper parental supervision. Even the youngest children can encounter harmful or illegal content, exposed to advertising or make purchases without understanding they are doing so, or inadvertently share personal data that can be used for commercial purposes.

Online bullying is another unwelcome by-product of being over connected. How to address these potential problems is something we are now looking very closely at the OECD with the ongoing revision the OECD Recommendations on the Protection of Children Online.

We will also need to further research the impact of ICT on children’s development and how it can be used in ECE setting [this is one of our G20 proposals].

Children’s mental and physical health should also be protected. We already know that school closure has put children at risk of malnutrition. We’ve all seen the harrowing photographs of cars lined up for miles at food banks in many advanced countries. At any point in time, an average 47 million children under 5 years of age suffer from wasting. With COVID and without free school meals, the WFP estimates show that additional 10 million will be pushed into acute malnutrition.

And what’s most unacceptable and concerning is a spike in domestic violence that could further affect children’s safety and mental health. Sadly, violence against children, and especially girls, is not a new phenomenon – the recent report by WHO[3] revealed that half of the world’s children each year are affected by physical, sexual or psychological violence, suffering injuries, disabilities and death.

This crisis has only worsened the situation due to compounding stress factors that turned aggressors more violent, such as unstable housing [with rising homeless population across OECD countries and over-crowded conditions particularly in Mexico, Latvia and Poland], financial insecurity [1 in 3 across OECD countries financially insecure before the crisis] and job loss [81% of global workforce affected]. We have already seen a surge in the reported case of domestic violence globally [by 30% in France, 40% in the UK, 50% in Brazil and 70% in Chile] and calls to helplines from children suffering violence at home. Some children are struggling with depression, even resulting in attempts at suicide, according to the report published by UNICEF last week.

Countries are doing a lot to address these challenges.

Of course, many countries have taken impressive measures already.

  • Some countries have put food assistance programmes in place.
    • US put in place the Families First Coronavirus Response Act 2020, providing additional funding to food providers like SNAP and the Child Nutrition Programmes.
  • Many services have been moved online to provide tele-consultations to support children and families.
    • In New Zealand, Oranga Tamariki (national children protection justice agency) has developed online resources for parents and carers to help them understand and respond to children’s stress responses.
  • Almost all OECD countries offer childcare options and support with alternative care solutions parents in essential services.
  • Countries are also implementing responses to ensure that families can remain in their dwelling if they struggle to cover rent, mortgage or utility payments due to a job or wage loss.
    • Several countries (i.e., the Slovak Republic and the UK) have introduced temporary deferments of mortgage payments, or temporarily suspended foreclosures (i.e. US) or evictions (i.e., France, Spain, and some Canadian regions and municipalities).
  • Some countries have introduced emergency to give families extra cash.
    • For example, the City of Paris has earmarked an exceptional budget of EUR 3.5 million to support 28 579 Parisian low-income households. Payment rates are based on canteen prices for children, and are paid automatically by the Caisse nationale d’allocations familiales into the bank accounts of households.

These measures are certainly helping to improve the condition for children to grow healthy, however, we need to ensure that these supports continue in the recovery phase and to build a more resilient and inclusive ECEC in place.

Where do we go from here? And how can the OECD help?

Early childhood education and care matters for children’s development. To help countries improve their ECEC services and systems, it is essential to have timely, reliable and comparable international information.

This is exactly why the OECD has started the International Early Learning and Child Well-being Study to put a spotlight on how children are fairing at 5 years of age in terms of their social, emotional and cognitive development. Our first round of study was conducted with England, Estonia and the US covering 7,000 children, teachers and parents.

According to the findings, children who attended ECEC had stronger emergent literacy [13 score points’ difference] and emergent numeracy [26 score points’ difference] than children who did not attend. So, starting behind means staying behind for individual children and for education systems.

In times of greater pressure on government budgets, an OECD assessment like this could highlight the importance of ECEC as an investment, not a cost. We want more countries to join this study (IELS) to build the international benchmark for ECEC.

Putting people at the centre of our response should be another priority. We need to keep supporting the ECEC centres and staff, essential workers, to gain access to temporary unemployment scheme. Indeed, countries have maintained public ECEC settings for essential workers and provided financial support to the privately funded centres to keep the business running. But even Canada, which provided generous support for staff and carers, had the issue of “unevenness” between provinces.

Looking ahead, our focus should also be on how to redress the inequality around access to and affordability of ECEC. Although many governments have done a lot to mitigate the impact on families, these support must continue beyond the crisis because out-of-pocket costs of childcare services often take out a large share of earnings especially for low-paid parents and single mothers [especially in Ireland, Slovak Republic and the UK].[4]

We need to turn this crisis into an opportunity to build a more affordable ECEC so that low-income households [one-third less likely to participate in ECEC] can start to benefit in the post-COVID world.

Local and national government, and civil society have to work together in a coordinated manner to meet higher demands and to identify children in need. We also need international cooperation especially when it comes to cyber risks as we need effective framework to reinforce the ability of cross-border legal and police responses.

Without urgent action now, COVID could destroy the hopes and futures of an entire generation.

Our future depends upon our children and they should be placed at the front and centre of our recovery efforts.

I hope that today’s Conference could create the change that we want.

Thank you.

[1] Except for Sweden and Japan. Federal states like Australia and the US introduced only state level closures of regulated ECEC settings.

[2] OECD (2020), Early Learning and Child Well-being:A Study of Five-year-Olds in England, Estonia, and the United States, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[3] Global Status Report on Preventing Violence Against Children 2020

[4] OECD (2020), Is Childcare affordable ?, Policy Brief on employment, labour and social affairs.

OECD-WWF dialogues: Aligning NDCs with a Post-COVID World

On Friday 29 May 2020, the OECD held one of a series of joint OECD-WWF Virtual Dialogues. In honor of this session, Gabriela prepared the following intervention. Find below her remarks and recording.

Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to welcome you to the first of a series of three joint WWF-OECD high-level dialogues aimed at informing decision-making on how we recover from the COVID-19 crisis more sustainable and more resilient than before.

The current health emergency, and its economic and social ramifications, have revealed how vulnerable our societies and economies are to shocks. We could have anticipated. But we were not adequately prepared!

Indeed, this crisis is a wakeup call that we cannot keep treating economics, health, environment, education and social justice as separate questions with separate answers. And, as we focus on overcoming COVID-19, we must not forget about other planetary emergencies – such as climate change and biodiversity loss. If we do not act now, who will suffer most again? The most vulnerable group and community.

Well, we already know that low-income households are more vulnerable to air pollution and more broadly climate change impacts.

  • For example, the health threat of Covid-19 is greater for cities and people exposed to higher levels of pollution, which are most often people living in poorer areas.
  • Globally, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely-managed drinking water services. We know that access to clean water and sanitation services are key to reducing transmission of infectious diseases.
  • Pollution affect the health and development of children – especially the low-income (and their educational outcomes) and of course cause more death for the old population disproportionately.
  • Learning lesson from the past, the crisis could affect people’s job prospect especially for some disadvantaged social groups and minorities:
    • Post-Hurricane Katrina disaster, black workers were 3.8 times more likely to have lost their jobs (increasing to 7 times for low-income black workers).
    • Climate change affect workers who are the most reliant on ecosystem services such as farmers and fishers.

By reducing the environmental and social risk factors people are exposed to, nearly a quarter of the global health burden (measured as loss from sickness, death and financial costs) could be prevented, according to WHO. So, green recovery packages need to consider multiple well-being objectives, focusing on jobs and incomes as well as health and effective reductions in emissions.

As governments start to move from short-term emergency measures towards longer-term economic recovery, many will also be considering the upgrades to their climate commitments – NDCs – that are required ahead of COP26 next year.

This presents a perfect opportunity to ensure that increased climate ambition is at the core of people-centred economic recovery strategies. Economic recovery measures should be designed to both reduce the likelihood of future shocks and increase society’s resilience to those that will inevitably occur, while at the same time focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable. In other words, to “build back better” the economy in a way that protects the environment, public health, and safeguards people’s well-being

At the OECD we are moving towards this objective and our work on climate and well-being is a great start. By better capturing multiple benefits, a well-being approach to climate action can make a stronger case for implementing and funding solutions that align multiple goals and combine different scales of action. We now need the courage and political will to pursue a truly “sustainable” recovery that is low-carbon and climate-resilient, confident that it will be the most prosperous path for the long-term.

Thank  you.

Online forum “Enhancing Multilateralism to collectively achieve the sustainable development goals”

In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN co-organised by Centre for China and Globalisation (CCG) and Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute

Find Gabriela Ramos’ keynote remarks and the recording of the session below. She was joined by other speakers including Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Former French Prime Minister; Nicholas Rosellini, Resident Coordinator, UN China; YI Xiaozhun, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO).

Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’d like to thank Centre for China and Globalization (CCG) AND Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC) when multilateralism stands at a critical juncture. 

The COVID-19, as tragic as it is, has reminded us of what truly matters to us – good physical and mental health, environment, social connection, education. Indeed, this deadly health crisis made us “re-evaluate our priority”. To find out what we treasure most.

For sure, the economic impact has been enormous.  According to the OECD’s latest Economic Outlook, we project 6% annual decline in global GDP for 2020, and this is far bigger than any other decline we have seen in the 60 years of the OECD’s existence. But this is just the “upbeat” scenario without considering a second wave of infections. In the case of a “double hit” scenario, global GDP could decline by more than 7.5%, with 40 million additional people being unemployed in the OECD by December 2020.

This systemic shock comes at a time when the global economy was already vulnerable with widening inequalities, climate challenges and high-level of corporate and public debt. Even the most advanced economies could not absorb the shock. Our economy, trade, people, jobs, children and women are all hard hit – the COVID-19 ended up exposing all kinds of “pre-existing” vulnerabilities and fragilities in our society. The crisis has created a clearer divide between the winners and the losers – those who can adopt and those who cannot. Women, those in informal jobs, those without savings, those with limited digital connectivity are the ones who are losing most.

But the crisis did not create these divides. For so long, the uneven distribution of the benefits of growth has been leaving too many people behind. Around the world, people have been expressing their anger through the ballot box and in the street, allowing populist and isolationist to take over in a crisis situation like this when all we need is a stronger international co-operation.

Currently, all the frameworks are overstretched, even with the WHO. We will not be able to operate effectively without an extra push of international co-operation. Then, can the pandemic “revive” multilateralism?

In fact, there may be a silver lining. Given that the pandemic respects no borders, there is a realization that this global problem requires global solutions.

First, because we can learn from each other to see why some countries managed much better than the others.

The crisis proved that lack of any sort of excess capacity can leave countries vulnerable to an unexpected demand surge. Then, who managed well? Look at how Germany managed so well with a strong hospital capacity equipped with enough intensive care beds (38.7 per 100,000 people). Another good example is Korea, which was able to deploy a massive TTT strategy. And they absorbed the potentially devastating economic shocks (Korea 2.5% decline for 2020 in the double hit scenario; Germany 8.8% and the lowest in Euro area). These analyses are based on the OECD evidence-based work comparing government responses.

Furthermore, this public health crisis also teaches us a lesson that we need to anticipate any future shocks. In building multilateral solutions now, we also need to anticipate the next crisis brought by the environmental and climate emergency.  

Second, because some of the issues can only be developed jointly.

Currently, we are all in aggressive mission to develop a coronavirus vaccine. While attention has so far focused on spurring R&D, there has been little co-ordination  or  co-operation  between  countries  in  funding,  planning  and  building  manufacturing capacity. We need globally agreed rules on managing intellectual property rights and procurement to ensure equitable access, affordability and supply for developing countries or many lives will be at risk.

Third, because we need international cooperation to help countries raise revenue after the devastation to public finances wrought by the pandemic. At the OECD, we are working for a new global tax framework for technology companies that is more necessary than ever.

Fourth, because coordinated action is needed to keep trade and investment flowing freely.

Since the onset of the crisis, there has been a push back against extended global value chains, and countries reconsidering their dependence on far away markets. But the answer must not be localisation or anti-globalisation as this could result detrimental to developing countries. We need to analyse what happened to production networks, why it happened and what could be done in the future to create shock-proof systems.

No one country alone can take on this enormous task, but multilateralism is the only answer to the challenges.

We need to turn this crisis into an opportunity to enhance multilateral co-operation. The post-COVID world that we envision needs a new growth narrative that is people-centred. Of course, we already have the SDGs to guide us where we want to land.

“Building back better” means greener, but also enhanced inclusiveness and resilience to future shocks.

For example, we are in a desperate need for more development finance. Because at the moment, flows (such as ODA risk stagnation) or dramatic falling (such as external private finance) are estimated to plunge in 2020 by about USD 700 billion compared to 2019 levels. While domestic resources remain the most stable long-term source, developing countries cannot weather this crisis or reach the SDGs without additional external finance, starting with higher aid from both traditional and emerging donors.

Against this backdrop, a strong UN must rise to these challenges. The fact that those same 193 countries came together in 2015, only five years ago, to agree the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs is an example of the huge potential that it has.

But this requires political will. If, in particular the most powerful economies decide to use the UN as the forum to discuss and decide on ambitious coordinated global economic, social and environmental action, the UN once again rises to be the place to be.

Thank you.

Centre Français des Fonds et Fondations

“Fragilités humaines et environnementales, construire l’après-crise”

On 17 June 2020, Gabriela Ramos participed in an online webinar organised by the Centre Français des Fonds et Fondations, an association of foundations and endowment funds in France Through this event, CFF aimed to draw inspiration from external speakers in order to adjust their missions and actions in the face of major challenges. Gabriela particiapted in the session entitled “Et après ? Construire l’après-crise” along with Isabelle Autissier (President of WWF France) and Jean-Christope Rufin (writer). The session was moderated by Miren Bengoa , déléguée générale, Fondation Chanel.

Find Gabriela’s remarks in French below.

Q 1 : Pour construire le « monde d’après », quelle place pour les femmes ?

Je vous remercie, Miren.

Je suis heureuse, pour cette table ronde, d’être aux côtés de Jean-Christophe Rufin, d’Isabelle Autissier et de mon cher ami Justin Vaïsse.

Tout d’abord, je tiens à remercier le Centre français des Fonds et Fondations de m’avoir invitée aujourd’hui à cette réunion, particulièrement d’actualité dans le contexte qui est le nôtre. C’est en de tels moments de crise que nous prenons véritablement la mesure du rôle que peuvent jouer les organisations philanthropiques à l’appui de l’action et des ressources publiques.

Nous traversons une crise qui n’a aucun équivalent dans l’histoire moderne – et qui est en train de modifier profondément nos comportements. Un premier impact économique est déjà visible, car de nombreux travailleurs ont perdu leur emploi du fait de la mise à l’arrêt de l’activité. 

Les effets à long terme de l’épidémie de COVID-19 sur la santé publique et l’économie commencent à se matérialiser. Nous ne savons pas encore à quel point nos modes de vie vont changer dans les années qui viennent.

La philanthropie peut rapprocher les populations, et stimuler le sentiment d’appartenance à l’humanité. La philanthropie peut avoir valeur d’exemple, et venir soutenir et renforcer les organisations non lucratives.

Mais plus important encore, la philanthropie peut apporter un éclairage sur les complexités de nos sociétés, à l’instar des inégalités, qui pourraient sinon ne pas être suffisamment prises en compte.

La pandémie de COVID-19 a fait apparaître avec un maximum d’acuité les multiples vulnérabilités de nos sociétés et de nos économies.

En effet, l’épidémie de COVID-19 a fait naître des préoccupations en matière d’équité concernant les personnes âgées ou souffrant de handicap, celles qui n’ont pas facilement accès aux soins de santé, celles qui ne possèdent pas une couverture maladie suffisante, ou encore celles qui vivent dans des conditions de grande promiscuité, les travailleurs faiblement rémunérés, les travailleurs non salariés, les communautés de couleur, et bien d’autres encore. Ces populations sont en situation de fragilité et moins à même de combattre la maladie due au COVID-19. C’est pourquoi la réponse des organisations philanthropiques à la crise exige de prendre en compte les groupes qui courent le plus de risques de souffrir de façon disproportionnée durant la crise, face à des difficultés historiques ou systémiques exacerbées.

Prenons l’exemple des femmes, par exemple, et des conséquences disproportionnées qu’elles ont à subir. La situation n’est pas nouvelle – les difficultés rencontrées par les femmes durant la crise trouvent leurs racines dans des décennies d’inégalités. Je me réjouis donc que les fondations présentes aujourd’hui m’aient demandé de traiter cette question.

Au cours de la crise, nous avons été en première ligne pour apporter des réponses face à la crise du COVID-19. Notre système de santé s’appuie essentiellement sur les femmes [70 % du personnel soignant dans le monde et 95 % des professionnels dispensant des soins de longue durée dans les pays de l’OCDE sont des femmes], et il est surprenant de constater qu’elles ne perçoivent toujours pas leur juste part [l’écart de rémunération entre hommes et femmes est de 28 % et seulement 25 % des fonctions de direction dans le secteur de la santé sont occupées par des femmes].

 La crise a mis en lumière la nécessité dans laquelle nous nous trouvons de mieux prendre en compte la problématique hommes-femmes, non seulement dans la réponse immédiate face à la crise, mais aussi dans les mesures que nous allons prendre pour retrouver une « nouvelle normalité ».

Violences faites aux femmes

Par ailleurs, les mesures de confinement prises pour endiguer la pandémie de COVID-19 ont fait peser sur les femmes des risques accrus eu égard aux violences conjugales, pouvant parfois aller jusqu’aux féminicides. Avant même la crise du COVID-19, 1 femme sur 3 déclarait avoir déjà subi des violences physiques ou sexuelles ; en outre, 38 % des femmes assassinées sont tuées par leur conjoint.  Avec la crise, on estime que la fréquence des violences sexistes a augmenté de 40-50 % au Brésil, au Royaume-Uni et dans d’autres pays.

L’accès aux soins de santé, à la justice et aux services d’accompagnement et de police propres à protéger les femmes contre les violences et à venir en aide aux victimes de violences a été en grande partie coupé. Compte tenu des suppressions d’emplois entraînées par la crise du COVID-19, de nombreuses femmes ont peut-être aujourd’hui encore moins de possibilités de partir lorsqu’elles sont victimes de violences conjugales.

Face à de telles difficultés, les pouvoirs publics se mobilisent et les organisations à but non lucratif montent au créneau.  La France a adopté diverses mesures afin d’aider les victimes à dénoncer plus facilement les violences conjugales : le gouvernement a notamment mis en place un numéro d’alerte par SMS ou donné la possibilité aux femmes de se rendre dans une pharmacie ou un supermarché pour signaler des violences.  L’European Family Justice Centre Alliance a élaboré une série de lignes directrices quant aux ajustements que les professionnels pourraient être contraints d’opérer dans leurs pratiques à la lumière de cette crise.

Néanmoins, ces efforts ne sont que la partie émergée de l’iceberg. Pour mettre un terme à cette violation inacceptable des droits humains, nous devons veiller à ce que toute l’attention portée aujourd’hui à la lutte contre les violences faites aux femmes soit maintenue une fois que la crise du COVID-19 commencera à s’estomper.

Juste avant l’épidémie de COVID-19, les 5 et 6 février 2020, l’OCDE a organisé la première Conférence à haut niveau sur le thème « Abolir la violence domestique »,
avec le soutien de ministres dont Madame la Ministre Marlène Schiappa. Le résultat a été incroyable.

19 ambassadeurs appellent l’OCDE à mettre à profit son expertise et à intensifier son engagement et ses activités pour lutter contre les violences conjugales sur: 1) collecter des données administratives et des données d’enquête pour évaluer précisément  l’incidence de ces violences; 2) coordonner pour fournir la palette de services complémentaires; 3) remédier aux blocages qui persistent dans le système judiciaire; et 4) modifié le contexte socioéconomique et culturel qui permet aux violences faites aux femmes.

La crise COVID-19 a mis en évidence le coût et le risque de l’inaction face à la violence domestique. Nous devons renforcer notre travail dans tous ces domaines. À l’OCDE, nous recherchons des partenaires pour faire avancer les travaux sur la base de ces quatre domaines prioritaires. Votre intérêt à collaborer sera très apprécié.

À l’avenir, nous devrons nous assurer que les mesures prises pour relancer l’économie après la crise du COVID-19 contribuent à bâtir des sociétés plus inclusives et à résorber les inégalités entre hommes et femmes plutôt qu’à les creuser. Il nous faudra prendre des mesures de prévention pour éliminer les retards persistants en termes de salaires et de perspectives professionnelles que continueront de subir les femmes au sortir de la crise. C’est pourquoi l’ouverture des structures d’accueil des jeunes enfants et des établissements scolaires à plein temps doit être l’un des piliers des plans de relance de l’activité économique.  

Le rôle des fondations et des organismes philanthropiques

Les données de l’OCDE montrent que 16 % des flux financiers philanthropiques sont axés sur la lutte contre les inégalités femmes-hommes, et que 5 % seulement de ces fonds ont pour objectif (principal) de favoriser l’égalité entre les sexes[1]. Certaines fondations ouvrent la voie, parmi lesquelles des fondations européennes comme le Children Investment Foundation Fund (CIFF) ou Dutch Postcode Lottery qui ont fait des dons importants en faveur des femmes, et des fondations françaises, comme celles de CHANEL ou de L’Oréal qui sont exclusivement spécialisées dans les questions relatives à l’égalité femmes-hommes [ce qui signifie que la promotion de l’égalité femmes-hommes représente plus de 90 % de leur portefeuille].

Toutefois, ces données montrent également que 84 % des flux financiers philanthropiques ne tiennent pas encore compte des problèmes spécifiques à chaque sexe, c’est-à-dire qu’ils sont indifférents à la question des sexes. Or, tout comme nos sociétés, la philanthropie n’est indépendante des considérations de sexe. Le fait de ne pas prendre en compte les besoins et la situation des femmes et des filles peut au bout du compte nuire à l’égalité femmes-hommes et à l’autonomisation des femmes, mais aussi induire un retour en arrière à de multiples égards.

Les fondations peuvent faire plus, et s’engager à orienter leurs portefeuilles de manière à tenir compte des besoins et de la situation des femmes et des filles, et à intégrer la problématique femmes-hommes aux travaux qu’elles mènent avec l’ensemble de leurs partenaires dans tous les secteurs – agriculture, santé, énergie ou développement économique au sens large.

En adaptant nos politiques et nos pratiques pour faire face à la crise, nous devons accorder une attention particulière aux moyens de réduire, et non d’accentuer, les inégalités existantes entre hommes et femmes.

La pandémie de coronavirus nous offre aussi l’occasion de transformer le monde à long terme. Pour cela, il faut dans un premier temps examiner sans détour les problèmes afin de trouver ensemble des solutions—en gardant à l’esprit que le statut, la santé et la sécurité des femmes ne sont pas « une affaire de femmes » mais bien des questions qui sont imbriquées avec de nombreuses autres qui nous concernent tous.

Quoiqu’il en soit, ne nous concentrons pas uniquement sur les femmes. Le thème général de la manifestation d’aujourd’hui vise juste. La crise nous a montré que nous vivons dans un système imbriqué complexe, dans lequel de multiples facteurs interagissent et influent les uns sur les autres. Ce dont nous avons besoin, c’est d’une approche globale pour relever les défis qui se présentent à nous aujourd’hui. Je me réjouis à la perspective d’entendre les autres participants au panel et d’échanger sur la manière dont ces différents éléments doivent s’articuler les uns aux autres dans les modèles auxquels nous réfléchissons pour reconstruire un monde meilleur, plus inclusif et durable. 

Q : Vous avez beaucoup travaillé sur la résilience des systèmes face à la crise, quel est à votre sens le rôle de la philanthropie ?

  • La pandémie de COVID-19 est venue brutalement nous rappeler la fragilité de certains de nos systèmes humains les plus fondamentaux.
    • La pénurie de masques, de tests, de respirateurs et d’autres fournitures essentielles ont placé les personnels d’urgence et la population en général en situation de fragilité face à la maladie.
  • L’économie mondiale a évolué, passant d’un monde connecté à un monde interconnecté puis à un monde interdépendant. Ce faisant, nous avons bâti une mondialisation plus rapide, plus profonde, plus abordable et plus imbriquée que jamais auparavant.
  • De façon plus générale, nous avons assisté à un effondrement en cascade de pans entiers de nos réseaux de production, réseaux de transport et réseaux financiers, sous l’effet d’une conjonction délétère de chocs sur l’offre et la demande.
    • Néanmoins, nombre de nos réseaux et systèmes ont été capables de s’adapter et de se réorganiser, ce qui dénote un certain degré de flexibilité et de résilience.
  • Dans un monde si complexe, plutôt que de s’appuyer uniquement sur la capacité des acteurs du système à prévenir, éviter, affronter et absorber les menaces de tous ordres, la résilience met l’accent sur la nécessité de se rétablir et de s’adapter une fois la crise passée.
  • Dans la crise actuelle, les fondations sont appelées à mobiliser un volume plus important de ressources et adapter les modalités de leurs dons.
    • Dans une démarche sans précédent dans le secteur philanthropique, la Fondation Ford, et quatre autres fondations américaines ont récemment annoncé une augmentation significative de leurs budgets annuels grâce à l’émission des obligations à la hauteur de plus d’un milliard de dollars.
  • Les fondations joue déjà un rôle clé dans la promotion de la santé, notamment dans les pays en développement.
    • 3,2 milliards USD (soit 41% des dons et investissements des fondations) ont été dédiés à des activités dans les secteurs de la santé (ODD 3) en 2018.
    • Les fondations philanthropiques dans leur ensemble sont le troisième bailleur de fonds le plus important dans ce domaine, après les États-Unis et le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le sida, la tuberculose et le paludisme.
    •  La Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates représente 82% du total des sommes consacrées par les fondations à ce secteur,
      • Mais d’autres bailleurs de fonds privés ont également joué un rôle important, en particulier le Wellcome Trust (8%), la Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (4%), la Fondation de David et Lucile Packard (1%) et la Fondation William et Flora Hewlett (1%).
    • Par ailleurs, les maladies infectieuses (par exemple la polio, le paludisme, la tuberculose, les MST, y compris le VIH / sida, le trachome et d’autres maladies tropicales négligées) sont au cœur du programme de santé de nombreuses fondations. Avec 1,9 milliard USD en 2018, les fondations restent le troisième bailleur de fonds le plus important dans ce domaine.
    • La prépondérance de la Fondation Gates et du Wellcome Trust dans le secteur de la santé s’observe aussi à propos de la pandémie actuelle, au cours de laquelle ces deux institutions ont pris des initiatives importantes pour y faire face, comme le COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator ou Fond COVID-Zero
  • Au-delà de la santé, les fondations philanthropiques privées sont également d’importants bailleurs de fonds dans les domaines de l’agriculture, de la gouvernance et de la société civile, de l’éducation ainsi que d’autres secteurs.
  • Cependant, d’autres domaines – tels que la lutte contre le changement climatique ou encore l’égalité homme femme – pourtant clés pour la sortie de cette crise – ont été traditionnellement moins investis par les fondations [respectivement 6.5% et 5% des flux philanthropiques dans les pays en développement entre 2013-15].

Sur le rôle de l’OCDE:

  • L’OCDE, notamment au travers de son Centre de développement, œuvre en faveur d’un rapprochement entre les fondations et les gouvernements, à travers la mise en places des instances de dialogue entre les fondations et les gouvernements et la collecte des données sur les flux philanthropiques.
  • Cependant, il est encore nécessaire d’améliorer la relation et le dialogue entre les fondations et les gouvernement des pays donateurs.
    • les fondations déclarent coopérer systématiquement avec les gouvernements des pays en développement (67%), tandis qu’un peu moins que la moitié des fondations (45%) coopèrent avec les gouvernements des pays donateurs dans le cadre de l’élaboration ou de la mise en œuvre de leurs programmes et projets (OECD 2018, Private Philanthropy for Development report).
  • Le dialogue avec les fondations est promu par l’OECD à travers plusieurs initiatives
    • Le Réseau mondial des fondations œuvrant pour le développement (netFWD) – initié par le Centre de développement de l’OCDE –  et ses groupes de travail sur la santé, l’éducation et l’égalité des genres
    • La table ronde de haut niveau initié par le Secrétaire général de l’OCDE en 2019, en marge de la Réunion du Conseil au niveau des Ministres.

Comprendre la situation est le plus important. L’OCDE investit dans la collecte des données and les analyses des flux philanthropiques fiables, comparables et disponibles pour tous.

  • Au sein du Centre de développement de l’OCDE, le Centre sur la philanthropie collecte données et informations qualitatives sur la philanthropie internationale et domestique dans le pays en voie de développement, nous donnant des éléments nécessaires pour mettre en évidence les lacunes, mais aussi imaginer les partenariats public privé autour des priorités de développement partagées par les fondations et les gouvernements.

[Le Centre a récemment publié un rapport sur la philanthropie domestique en Inde et bientôt publiera une analyse du rôle de la philanthropie dans la promotion de l’égalité homme femme en Colombie, Afrique du Sud, Nigeria et Inde.

  • Le Centre sur la philanthropie a récemment lancé la deuxième édition du rapport La philanthropie privée pour le développement, pour examiner les apports de ressources que les fondations philanthropiques consacrent au développement, ainsi que leurs priorités et leurs pratiques et comportements en matière de partenariat. La première édition était le fruit d’une collaboration étroite entre le Centre de développement de l’OCDE et la Direction de la coopération pour le développement de l’OCDE]
    • Le système statistique du CAD sur les financements pour le développement inclut les données des fondations philanthropiques privées depuis 2010, date à laquelle la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates a commencé à partager avec l’OCDE ses données sur ses activités de développement.

Récemment, ces efforts ont été considérablement étendus avec plus de 30 des plus grandes fondations qui ont partagé leurs données en 2019, conformément aux standards de l’APD.

[1] Données 2013-2015 ( et données plus récentes de 2017 (

Beyond GDP: What Counts for economic and social performance? Understanding different daily life challenges in Europe?

On 16 June 2020 Gabriela Ramos participated in a virtual webinar entitled “Beyond GDP: What Counts for economic and social performance? Understanding different daily life challenges in Europe?” co-hosted by the HLEG and Bertelsmann Stiftung. She was joined by Brigitte Mohn, Member of the Executive Board, Bertelsmann Stiftung; Christian Kastrop, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection; former Director, Europe’s Future, Bertelsmann Stiftung; Joseph E. Stiglitz, HLEG Co-Chair and Nobel Prize Laureate; Martine Durand, HLEG Co-Chair and former OECD Chief Statistician; Wolfgang Schmidt, State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance; Gary Gillespie, Chief Economist, Scottish Government; Dennis Snower, Global Solutions Initiative. Find the recording of the session below, session agenda here, summary here, and Gabriela’s remarks as delivered below.

A) What do you think are some of the most urgent priorities here, from an inequality and vulnerability perspective? 

  • Thank you, Martine [Durand, Chair of this session].
  • Dear State Secretary [Wolfgang Schmidt], distinguished guests,
  • First, I’d like to thank the Bertelsmann Foundation for organising this important meeting and for supporting the High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (HLEG).
  • When we set up the HLEG in 2013, our central message was “what we measure affect what we do. If we measure the wrong thing, we will do the wrong thing. If we don’t measure something, it becomes neglected, as if the problem didn’t exist”. This was a strong message that continues to guide the work at the OECD.   
  • In a crisis moment like this, we take a step back and think what matters most to us. And what we care about most are falling apart.
  • Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic unveiled in a more dramatic way the accumulation of our vulnerabilities as societies and economies.
  • First, this health crisis bluntly reminded us that high-quality and affordable universal health coverage is the foundation to protecting the most vulnerable. It has put the spotlight on inadequate health security and preparedness, including inadequate healthcare facilities and resources such as shortages of hospital beds, medicines, ventilators and healthcare workforce.
  • We need to analyse why some countries like Germany had better results… Because they have already built resilience in the health systems.  Particularly in this crisis, the most important bottlenecks in hospital capacity are caused by a lack of intensive care beds.
  • No wonder Germany managed the pandemic well, with the highest number of intensive care beds in the OECD [33.9 per 100,000] compared to Italy for example even with UHC [8.5 per 100,000].
  • We need capable governments that are fit to address the multiple gaps in the health care systems. Needless to say, universal health coverage is a must.
    • Today, about 925 million people spend more than 10% of their household income on healthcare; 200 million people spend more than 25% of their income on health. Look at the countries with universal health coverage (South Korea, Singapore, Japan) which managed better.
  • And the sustainability of healthcare workers….In fact, the virus has particularly profound implications for developing countries since about 90% of low-income countries face health-worker shortages.
  • Building a strong health system should be our priority. This is not a cost but an investment for a better future.
  • Second, the crisis has laid bare pre-existing gaps in social protection provisions.
  • 55 % of the world’s population (4 billion people) are NOT covered by social insurance or social assistance. Globally, ONLY 20 % of unemployed people are covered by unemployment benefits, and in some regions the coverage is much lower.
  • Even in countries with the most advanced systems of social protection, some workers and their families miss out: workers with non-standard jobs [the self-employed, temporary, and informal workers, and those who work very short hours] are often not covered by insurance-based unemployment and sickness benefit schemes.
  • Furthermore, as migrants across the OECD lose their jobs and their livelihoods, they also lose their ability to send remittances to their families. With remittances estimated to  fall  by  close  to  20%  in  2020,  this  is  likely  to  put  even  further  strain  on  the  budgets  of  vulnerable households, including in emerging and developing countries.

No wonder the most affected are the ones that were already struggling. We need to fix this.  

  • Going forward, we need to be mindful. The magnitude of the impact is so big that people will want growth at any cost.
  • Our society is already increasingly divided not least because of the social distancing but because the crisis has basically shed light on all kinds of inequalities.
  • We need to include distributional outcomes, and sustainability issues. We need to see the outcomes for the most affected and intervene there. 

We already know that inequalities have a compounding effect.

First, COVID may deepen the intergenerational divide and create a lost generation of youth.

  • The Economic Outlook that we released last week highlights that if we are unable to avoid a second wave, OECD unemployment rate would nearly double to 10% with little recovery of jobs expected in 2021.
  • Youth are the particularly hard hit by this economic fallout. Already, more than 1 in 6 young people have stopped working since the onset of the pandemic or have working hours cut by 23%.
  • Furthermore, lockdown will increase the risk of dropping out from education and employment since the more we spend out of school or employment makes the transition back to normal more difficult.
  • Our research shows that it is the most disadvantaged who have the greatest risk of learning loss from school breaks.
  • It can take up to 6 weeks of adjustment time for these students to be mentally and physically ready to re-engage with the curriculum after a summer break.
  • So the crisis might cast a dark shadow over children’s future well-being.
  • We are particularly concerned about the projected rise in child poverty of 15% (or 86 million more children), based on UNICEF data.
  • As we moved towards teleworking and e-learning, the digital divide has created clear winners and losers.
  • Indeed, half of the world’s population now connected to the Internet.
  • Across the OECD, 22% of children from the lowest socio-economic status don’t have internet access.
  • We need urgent investment in affordable and sustainable digital infrastructure.
  • And, women have also been disproportionately affected as they are facing many burdens: unpaid work (3 times as much as men on average in the OECD); over-representation in informal economy without adequate social protection (60% globally and 73% for young women); overrepresentation in the hardest hit sectors; and access to liquidity for women owned businesses.

We need to urgently address this disproportionate impact. 

Solutions?  We need to drive the people-centred growth.

  • The pandemic has inspired an outpouring of public appreciation for the front line workers – doctors and nurses are the most obvious but they actually represent less than 20% of all essential health workers. Too often, we overlook the heroism and dignity of millions of under-paid, under-valued and essential workers, including cleaners in an acute nursing facility or waste pickers or food vendors. Or I would say teachers as well! Despite their contributions to our society and this health crisis, they do not get the respect that they deserve.  
  • Healthcare workers: Nursing assistants, house keepers, medical assistants, etc – their median pay is just $13.48 an hour in the US for example. And let’s not forget about another layer of inequality – 70% of the health care workers are women.
  • Teachers: ONLY 26% of teachers on average across OECD countries (TALIS) think that the work they do is valued by society.
  • And informal workers who provide essential services. Many are essential workers who today are responsible for ensuring food security, collecting our waste and recyclables, and providing care work.  Despite the tremendous value of this work in sustaining our economies and societies, informal workers are too often excluded or marginalized within economic and social policy.
  • Going forward, this needs to change.

To fulfil this mission, we need to rethink the growth model, and it begins with reviewing our objectives. Societal progress should not be measured by income and outputs. Instead it should be based on multidimensional well-being (educational attainment, social connection, good health, environmental quality, economic and personal security) – the things that matter in people’s lives.

But better measures of “social progress” is not enough. What matters is to anchor these measures in the policy process.

It is actually encouraging to see that more than half of OECD governments have now developed their own well-being and sustainable development indicator dashboards.

And well-being is not just for measurement, it is to be used to inform policy at national [New Zealand’s well-being budget is the most visible approach, but also Italy and France have used well-being metrics in national budget. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have used subjective well-being measures in cost-benefit analysis] and international level [EU Council Conclusions on the Economy of well-being under the Finnish Presidency in 2019]

These experiences hold the promise of delivering policies that, because they go beyond the traditional silos, are more effective in achieving their goals and in improving people’s lives, as well as in overcoming the barriers between elites and others that are at the root of today’s political crises.

Talking points

Economic Outlook

  • The shadow of 2008 falls over the outlook today. In the Economic Outlook released just last week at the Ministerial Council Roundtable, we provided a dual outlook scenario.
  • In the case where we avoid a second wave of infections, we will see global economic activity fall 6% in 2020 and unemployment climb from 5.4% in 2019 to 9.2% (nearly double!). This is far greater than anything experienced during the 2008 financial crisis. In the case where we are unable to avoid a second wave, OECD unemployment rate would nearly double to 10% with little recovery of jobs expected in 2021.
    • Even more concerning are the long-lasting effects to the most vulnerable people in our society. 
  • In fact, we thought that we learnt a lesson from the 2008 crisis, where the GDP loss brought down people’s well-being in the recession and the subsequent weak recovery. What followed was a reinforcement of pre-existing inequalities (income and wealth) as well as a birth of new inequalities (skills, social mobility, and subjective well-being), which in turn is causing political and social upheaval.
    • On average, OECD households spent around 21% of their disposable income on housing costs, and nearly 1 in 5 lower-income households spent more than 40%.
    • 30% of households were living in overcrowded conditions in Mexico, Latvia and Poland.
    • Middle-income households will also struggle to make ends meet as 1 in 5 middle-income households spends more than it earns across the OECD. In most OECD countries, over-indebtedness is more widespread among middle-income households than among low and high-income households, and concerns around 11% of middle-income households on average.  With a loss of income and job security across all OECD countries, middle and lower classes will be further squeezed.

Measures taken by countries to support the affected workers and SMEs.

  • Countries have responded by ramping up their income-support programmes and get money into the hands of those who need it most:
    • Stepping up means-tested support to bolster the incomes of those with the least resources (11 of 37 OECD countries);
    • Providing targeted transfers to support those whose vulnerability has been revealed by the crisis 28 countries);
    • Offering universal transfers, to ensure a rapid pay-out and limit the number of people that fall through the cracks (3 countries); and
    • Providing direct relief to those unable to meet their expenses (27 countries).

Where and towards which population groups should we be focusing our efforts?

Child well-being

  • Child well-being needs to be a priority in the COVID recovery and the higher level of investment and better policy making required to manage the impact of this crisis. Stress concern of projected rise in child poverty of 15% or 86 million more children[1] and need of the international community and country governments need to respond quickly to protect children and invest in child well-being.
  • Education and school is one of the main channel through which confinement is exacerbating existing stressors and inequalities. Learning loss is a critical issue. Children from disadvantaged families typically lose one month of learning during the two month break from school over summer. This loss is cumulative. In fact, children from advantaged families can make learning gains through parental support and new opportunities to learn.
  • Evidence from the joint OECD-Harvard study reveals that many children and youth are not actively engaged in distance learning, particularly the most vulnerable: only about half of students are able to access all or most of the curriculum.[2]
  • Extended confinement will create problems once schools and centres re-open, in particular school routines and ability to concentrate. Deliberate effort is needed to rebuild student’s engagement and avoid increases in school drop-outs, makeup for lack of access for disadvantaged children, and support children making school transitions.  Schools need to provide special measures for students exposed to violence at home and experiencing higher levels of psychological stress.


  • Efforts needs to be made to keep young people engaged in training and education and the labour market. One Lesson from the Great Recession is that the problem of young people not in education or employment (NEET) is structural and will persist after economies pick up. 
  • Governments need to build commitment across the public administration, set procedures and prepare guidelines to applying a youth and intergenerational lens in crisis response and recovery measures. Targeted policies and services are needed for the most vulnerable youths, including young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs); young migrants; homeless youth; and young women, adolescents and children facing increased risks of domestic violence.

Structural issues

  • Making social protection more responsive and addressing structural issues[3]:
  • The COVID‑19 is accentuating  a  range  of  structural  challenges  of  social  protection  systems that need to be addressed to ensure that social protection serves inclusive  growth. For example, even in countries with the most advanced systems of social protection, some workers and their families miss out: workers with non-standard jobs –the self-employed, temporary, and informal workers, and those who work very short hours –are often not covered while others already out of work before the crisis face protracted hardship. In countries with large informal sectors and weak social protection systems, where growing numbers of people lose work without any access to income support, the situation is worse.
  • Policymakers need to get money into the hands of people who need it as quick as possible and deign new programmes to capture all. OECD countries have adopted different approaches from means-tested support to temporary transfers, universal transfers, and targeted relief. For example, the US and Japan have provided money transfers to citizens, and France, Finland, Japan and the UK have extended deadlines for tax submissions.
  • Careful consideration of how support programmes can be made as effective and as sustainable as possible is needed, over the coming months and possibly years. For example, making minimum-income protection more responsive, through timely reassessments of entitlements in the face of rapidly changing circumstances.
  • On supporting Vulnerable Workers and Companies[4]:
  • Paid sick leave is a crucial tool in slowing the infection: Extending paid sick leave coverage to non-standard workers, including the self-employed is important and SME need to be provided financial compensation.
  • Immediate measures are needed to secure jobs and incomes, and grant firms flexibility to recruit staff replacements, where necessary.  Low-skilled, low-wage, and young people may be the most vulnerable to job losses because they are in the sectors most at  risk. They are less likely to hold jobs that allow them to telework.  
  • Important lesson learned from the Great Recession is the positive role that short-time work (STW) schemes can play in mitigating the economic and social costs of major economic crises. For instance, Korea relaxed the requirements for its employment retention subsidy programme and raised for six months the wage subsidy that companies can claim if they keep their employees on paid-leave or leave-of-absence programmes.
  • Many firms need financial support, particularly small firms. Several countries have taken rapid steps to help firms to cut costs or to provide them with liquidity by permitting a deferral of tax and social contribution payments, and provisions of temporary loans and grants. Australia, for instance, announced a package to reduce the financial burden to SMEs including changes in depreciation rules and the possibility for businesses hit hard by the downturn to defer tax obligations.

[1] Joint projection by UNICEF and Save the Children

[2] Taken from Schooling disrupted, schooling rethought: How the Covid-19 pandemic is changing education (2020)

[3] Taken from Supporting Livelihoods Brief

[4] Taken from supporting people and companies brief

Interview with LinkedIn Spain: ¿Cómo va a afectar la crisis del coronavirus a las mujeres?

Gabriela Ramos participated in an interview with Virginia Collera of LinkedIn Spain on the impact of the COVID pandemic on women. Find the full interview here. This interview was used to inform an article published by Virginia Collera.

Find Gabriela’s speaking points below.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is a fundamentally social crisis. The virus spreads between people, and impacts individuals, households and communities. Any country’s response to the pandemic must be guided by social data and expertise as much as by medical data and expertise. Failing to identify and address social impacts of the pandemic opens the way for devastating social damage and loss of life.

What is the context? What are the impact of the crisis on women?

  • The COVID-19 crisis has made starkly visible that the world’s formal economies and the maintenance of our daily lives are built on the invisible and unpaid labour of women and girls around the world.
  • Women with caring responsibilities, informal workers, low-income families and youth are among the hardest hit.
    • Women make up 70% of the healthcare workforce globally, around 85% of nurses, 95% of the long-term care workers, and half of doctors in the OECD. This puts them at adverse risk of infection.
    • Although women are over-represented in the health care workforce, they are clustered into lower-status [only 25% in leadership position] and lower-paid jobs [average gender pay gap of 28%].
    • Women also perform “unpaid” care work at home, spending 3 times as much as men on average across OECD countries and up to 10 times as much globally.
    • Women have borne the brunt of the economic disruption caused by lockdowns. Today, nearly 60 % of women around the world work in the informal economy (this number jumps to 73 % when we focus on young women of aged 15-24).
    • They earn less, save less, have no adequate social protection, and are constantly at greater risk of falling into poverty. Furthermore, there is an unevenness between men and women in terms of job loss, reflecting the fact that women are more likely to work in services that require interacting with people.
    • We also know that women-owned businesses are going through difficult times. Normally, women-owned businesses normally struggle to access credit (8% less chance) and operate business with lower levels of capitalization and more reliant on self-financing. As women-owned businesses are concentrated in customer-facing sectors, they are much more likely than men to expect a drop in sales in this crisis.
    • VAW is rising sharply due to the confinement (i.e., 40% increase of reported case in the UK, 40-50% in Brazil and 70% increase in Chile). Even before the crisis, 1 in 3 women suffered domestic violence and 38% of all murders of women are committed by their partners. Furthermore, the victims of violence are twice as likely to experience depression, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, 1.5 times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections.
    • All these impacts could potentially bring the biggest disaster for women in developing countries with higher informality, more case of VAW, more demand for unpaid work, and more cases of child marriage, early pregnancy and child labour.

Why is this crisis different from before? 2008 crisis hit men harder but what is the difference this time?

  • Evidence from past economic crises suggests that recessions often affect men’s and women’s employment differently, with men historically the biggest losers.
  • And indeed, the 2008 financial crisis, for instance, was to some extent a ‘male’ crisis : especially in the early years, job losses were much greater in male-dominated sectors of the economy (notably construction and manufacturing), with women’s working hours actually increasing.
  • This time could well be different. This crisis is different in nature to previous ones; it is not just an economic crisis, but also a health and social crisis.
    • Many women are already struggling to make it to work at all, given the need for at least one parent to stay home due to school or childcare facility closure. The lucky ones might be able to use teleworking as a partial and temporary solution.
    • Beyond this, the confinement and distancing measures being put in place around the world are threatening to shatter several female-dominated industries[i.e., health (70%), air travel (47%); tourism, retail activities, accommodation services (60%), and food and beverage service activities (53%)]
    • Also, as just mentioned, the majority of the frontline workers are women and they have little voice.
  • At least in the short term, jobs that rely on travel and on physical interaction with customers are clearly vulnerable.
  • Regardless of the gendered impact of job and business loss, we know that women are often more vulnerable than men to any sharp loss of income. Across OECD countries, women’s incomes are, on average, lower than men’s, and their poverty rates are higher.
    • Women are at a higher risk of poverty than men [Across the OECD, the average relative poverty rate for women is 12.3%, while 10.9% for men. The highest gender gap can be found in Korea, Latvia, Estonia in the OECD].
    • Twice as many women as men aged over 65 live alone in G20 countries. Pension payment to 65+ women are 25% lower than for men.
  • Also,  evidence from the 2008 financial crisis suggests that, in many countries, children in single-parent families were hit much harder by the recession than children in two parent families, not only in terms of income, but also in terms of access to essential material goods and activities such as adequate nutrition and an adequately warm home.
  • And the confinement: increasing domestic burden for women and also putting them at higher risk of exposure to domestic violence.

Gender mainstreaming – what is the priority now? Universal health coverage

  • It is a key time to apply OECD’s gender budgeting and gender mainstreaming recommendations
  • This includes prioritizing the funding of primary healthcare and universal health coverage grounded in gender equality and human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Decision-makers must examine gender-based differences in health expenditures, disease detection and response, emergency preparedness, research and development and the health workforce.

Mass teleworking experience: how women fare in this new environment. 

  • COVID-19 has an unequal effect on women’s and men’s work and home life:  Teleworking (for those who have it as an option) is harder for women to implement as they bear the greater burden of housework and childcare. School closures, caring for sick relatives, and home confinement has made this burden even greater.  
  • In How’s Life 2020,  the OECD highlighted that every day, women in OECD countries work 25 minutes longer than men do when both paid and unpaid work are considered. 
    • Over a year, this adds up to the equivalent of 4 months’ of a full-time job.  
  • And this is also all down to the digital gender divide that we have been experiencing even from before the crisis, globally.
  • Women, on average, have less access, less exposure and less experience with digital technologies than men, potentially putting them at a disadvantage when working remotely. Especially when coupled with their greater care responsibilities, women workers are likely to find it particularly difficult to work at full capacity through any period of sustained telework.  
  • Nevertheless, fortunate impacts is that women may gain digital skills to help close key digital skills gaps.
  • Further good news from transition to digital à In the public sector, some countries are also expanding flexible working options to help parents juggle work and care.

For example, Ireland has introduced a host of flexible working opportunities for public sector employees, including teleworking, flexible shifts, staggered shifts, longer opening hours and weekend working. An innovative practice involves requiring employees to work in different roles or organisations on a temporary basis to effectively facilitate the flexible work options while allowing delivery of critical services.  

Globalitika: Violencia contra las mujeres en el contexto de la pandemia: la dimension internacional

On 12 June 2020, Gabriela Ramos participated in a virtual webinar with Globalitika on violence against women in the context of the pandemic and the role of international cooperation in fighting this violence. She was joined by Dra. Claudia Calvin, Internacionalista y consultora. Fundadora de la organización Mujeres Construyendo; Mtra. Rina Mussalli, Internacionalista y miembro Red de Politólogas; Mtra. Natalia Calero Sánchez, Especialista en Gestión de Programas de ONUMujeres.

Find her remarks in Spanish below and the recorded conversation above.

Introductory Remarks:

Gracias, Doctora Olamendi, por invitarme a este acto que celebramos hoy. Desde el inicio de la pandemia, he recibido incontables solicitudes para hablar sobre el desmedido impacto de esta crisis en las mujeres. ¿Por qué? Porque estamos observando que está teniendo un efecto y tristemente, algunas mujeres incluso lo están sintiendo en carne propia.

Además, la OCDE ha documentado estas repercusiones. En realidad, la crisis ha venido a agravar desigualdades ya existentes. Aparte de intensificarse el riesgo de inseguridad económica, la falta de protección social y asumir una mayor carga de trabajo de cuidado, remunerado y no remunerado, una de las desigualdades más alarmantes que ha agravado esta crisis es la pandemia mundial de violencia contra las mujeres.

De hecho, en los últimos cuatro años la violencia contra las mujeres se ha reducido en la región ALC. Los países han promulgado leyes perfeccionadas, más robustas y de un alcance superior.

Estas nuevas leyes protegen a las mujeres de formas ancestrales de violencia sexual como el feminicidio, pero también de nuevas modalidades de acoso sexual como el ciberacoso.

Todos estos son avances extraordinarios y resultan muy alentadores. Sin embargo, disponer de leyes de amplio alcance no tiene ninguna utilidad si estas no llegan a aplicarse. Y, en ese sentido, todavía son muchas las dificultades, lo que pone de manifiesto la necesidad de luchar contra convenciones sociales de fondo que son discriminatorias y perpetúan la vulneración del derecho básico de las mujeres a una vida sin violencia. En muchos casos, las autoridades judiciales y policiales carecen de capacidad y formación para aplicar y hacer cumplir eficazmente la nueva legislación.

Ya antes de la crisis, una de cada tres mujeres de la región de ALC [y también del mundo] había sido víctima de violencia a lo largo de su vida, una cifra de proporciones pandémicas. El confinamiento ha venido a incrementar enormemente estas tasas [aumento del 51% en Colombia, 40% en Argentina, 70% en Chile].

Para las víctimas, quedarse en casa supone pasar prácticamente todo el día con sus abusadores. Durante la crisis, también les ha resultado tremendamente difícil encontrar refugio en otros lugares, puesto que no había suficientes centros de acogida para atender el creciente número de casos.

Tampoco podemos olvidar que los niños son casi siempre lo primeros en sufrir. Con ocasión del “Día Mundial contra el Trabajo Infantil” que se celebra hoy, permítanme destacar que el cierre de las escuelas y la pérdida de trabajo de los padres están generando una situación que incrementa la violencia doméstica contra los niños y, en algunos países, esta circunstancia podría causar además un aumento de la explotación infantil.

Nos consta que la pobreza agrava la violencia doméstica. Según las últimas Perspectivas Económicas de la OCDE dadas a conocer en el día de ayer, la pandemia de COVID-19 ha llegado en un momento inoportuno, con un crecimiento relativamente débil, un espacio fiscal limitado, una caída brusca de los precios de las materias primas y tensiones sociales. El desempleo va a llegar a niveles históricos en varios países de la región. Por lo tanto, ya se están dando unas condiciones que perpetúan la violencia doméstica. Si no se disponen medidas de apoyo rápidas y adecuadas, esta crisis solo vendrá a empeorar la violencia contra las mujeres y los niños. No hay excusa para ignorar este problema porque, si lo hacemos, saldremos de la crisis aún más divididos.

A pesar del espacio fiscal limitado, los países de la región han tomado esta crisis como una oportunidad para disminuir las altas desigualdades de la región, desafío de larga data.

De hecho, esta crisis está acelerando la modernización de la política social en muchos países. Los gobiernos están llegando a millones de familias vulnerables y trabajadores informales, que antes no lo hacían. Aún más alentador es que los gobiernos por primera vez están recolectando una increíble cantidad de datos sobre las familias y trabajadores que pueden servir de base para mejorar los sistemas de focalización de la región. Avanzamos por la senda correcta. Estoy deseando mantener un debate más intenso sobre esta cuestión en el día de hoy, ya que las causas y las medidas de respuesta son complejas.



El impacto económico: Perspectivas Económicas de la OCDE

  • Nos consta que la pobreza agrava la violencia doméstica.
  • Según las últimas Perspectivas Económicas de la OCDE dadas a conocer en el día de ayer, la pandemia de COVID-19 ha llegado en un momento inoportuno, con un crecimiento relativamente débil, un espacio fiscal limitado, una caída brusca de los precios de las materias primas y tensiones sociales.
  • El desempleo va a llegar a niveles históricos en varios países de la región.
    • En Colombia el desempleo llegó a casi el 20% en abril, el mayor dato desde que se tienen estadísticas.
    • En México, se espera que la tasa de desempleo alcance máximos históricos, superiores al 6%, durante el año 2020 y que la informalidad aumente de forma significativa.
    • Donde existen programas de retención de empleo, como en el caso de Chile, el número de aplicaciones ha aumentado de forma impresionante cubriendo a 100 mil empresas, 700 mil trabajadores.
  • Por lo tanto, ya se están dando unas condiciones que perpetúan la violencia doméstica. Si no se disponen medidas de apoyo rápidas y adecuadas, esta crisis solo vendrá a empeorar la violencia contra las mujeres y los niños.


Esta crisis está acelerando la modernización de la política social en muchos países

  • Los gobiernos están llegando a millones de familias vulnerables y trabajadores informales, que antes no lo hacían.
    • Por ejemplo, en Colombia una reforma introduce la compensación del IVA para las familias más vulnerables.
    • Otro ejemplo muy importante es el programa de Ingreso Solidario, que consta de transferencias monetarias no condicionadas a hogares vulnerables y pobres, llegando a trabajadores informales, que no eran beneficiarios de otros programas sociales.
    • Costa Rica introdujo una nueva transferencia monetaria (Bono Proteger) que llega a trabajadores informales y que ofrece también la creación de una cuenta bancaria.
    • Algunos gobiernos subnacionales en México han establecido un apoyo financiero a los trabajadores por cuenta propia e informales, los trabajadores rurales (productores de maíz), las empresas familiares y los grupos vulnerables (mujeres, poblaciones indígenas).


COVID-19 ha provocado un incremento masivo de violencia

  • Antes de la crisis, una de cada tres mujeres de todo el mundo había experimentado violencia física y/o sexual a manos de sus parejas, que además cometieron un 38% del número total de asesinatos de mujeres.
    • Además, es posible que estos datos estadísticos reflejen una cifra inferior a la real, porque tenemos motivos fundados para creer que existen muchas más mujeres que sufren abusos pero no lo denuncian.
    • Los datos son alarmantes en todos los países de la OCDE, incluso en aquellos que presentan buenos resultados en materia de igualdad de género en otros indicadores.
  • Según nuestro Informe Regional de ALC sobre el Índice de Instituciones Sociales y Género (SIGI), antes de la crisis la violencia doméstica por parte de parejas o exparejas afectaba prácticamente a una de cada tres mujeres de entre 15 y 49 años en esta región, con un porcentaje más elevado en determinados países [53% en Bolivia, 40% en Colombia y Perú];
  • Esta región presenta además la mayor tasa de feminicidios del mundo (según la ONU).
  • Pero el virus ha provocado un incremento masivo:
    • Colombia: aumento del 51% en los casos de violencia doméstica durante la cuarentena nacional (con casi un feminicidio por día; fuente: ONU MUJERES).
    • Argentina y Chile han registrado un aumento del 40% y el 70% respectivamente en las llamadas a sus plataformas de apoyo, principalmente durante los fines de semana (ONU Mujeres / Ministerio de la Mujer de Chile).


La violencia doméstica contra los niños

  • Tampoco podemos olvidar que los niños son casi siempre lo primeros en sufrir.
  • Con ocasión del “Día Mundial contra el Trabajo Infantil” que se celebra hoy, permítanme destacar que el cierre de las escuelas y la pérdida de trabajo de los padres están generando una situación que incrementa la violencia doméstica contra los niños.
  • En algunos países, esta circunstancia podría causar además un aumento de la explotación infantil.
    • En el mundo, uno de cada diez niños con edades comprendidas entre cinco y 17 años trabaja, y casi la mitad lo hace en actividades peligrosas.
    • El COVID-19 provocará un aumento de la pobreza extrema y, sin redes de seguridad social sólidas, la situación podría empeorar aún más.
    • La OCDE lleva años luchando contra el trabajo forzoso y la explotación infantil por medio de su labor en el G20 (con la OIT) o en colaboración con el ganador del Premio Nobel Kailash Satyarthi.


Efecto del confinamiento en víctimas de violencia

  • Las restricciones a la movilidad individual impiden que las supervivientes de la violencia puedan buscar refugio en otros lugares, de modo que los abusadores mantienen un estricto control sobre mujeres y niñas durante los periodos de confinamiento obligatorio.
    • Las mujeres víctimas de violencia a manos de su pareja ya encaraban grandes obstáculos al intentar marcharse de su hogar para protegerse o incluso llamar a líneas telefónicas de emergencia en presencia de sus abusadores. Y las mujeres y niños que ya se encontraban alojados en viviendas temporales o centros de acogida también están teniendo dificultades para seguir adelante con su vida, debido al riesgo de contagio y la falta de lugares en los que reinstalarse.
  • Las mujeres corren especial riesgo de encontrar numerosos obstáculos para acceder a la justicia, lo que agrava aún más su situación. Se trata entre otros de:
    • obstáculos económicos (por ejemplo, costos directos de servicios)
    • obstáculos estructurales (por ejemplo, la excesiva jerga de los documentos legales)
    • obstáculos sociales (por ejemplo, los estereotipos y los prejuicios del sistema judicial)
    • obstáculos específicos de grupos de riesgo (por ejemplo, personas con discapacidad, mujeres migrantes que no pueden defenderse con facilidad).
  • Estas dificultades podrían ser más acusadas debido a las restricciones de la movilidad y los períodos de confinamiento generados por el COVID-19. La crisis también podría menoscabar la prestación de servicios públicos esenciales a las supervivientes, como son los mecanismos de centros de acogida, servicios médicos, protección de menores, policiales y de asistencia letrada.


Restricciones que impiden a las mujeres informar y acceder a la justicia o servicios

  • Por desgracia, quienes perpetran este tipo de violencia quedan muchas veces impunes, ya que las mujeres no siempre denuncian porque temen represalias.
  • En los países en desarrollo, más de un 40% de las supervivientes no solicitó ayuda de ningún tipo nunca y menos de un 20% de quienes sí la pidieron recurrió a instituciones oficiales como la policía, el personal médico o profesionales de la abogacía. 
  • Las leyes que tipifican como delinto la violencia contra las mujeres constituyen un primer paso hacia la erradicación de esta lacra tan extendida.
  • De hecho, aunque todos los países del mundo hayan ratificado un convenio internacional y/o regional en esta materia, solo un 74% (es decir, 133) de los 180 países examinados por el SIGI de la OCDE penaliza la violencia doméstica.
  • También observamos muchas lagunas en los sistemas judiciales:
    • En el sistema legal existen demasiados enfoques aislados (derecho penal y derecho de familia).
    • Quienes perpetran estos actos de violencia son liberados con tanta facilidad tras agredir a sus parejas que las mujeres temen represalias.
    • Algunas de ellas contraen matrimonio bajo coacción, por lo que la violencia se considera “justificada”.
  • La OCDE está trabajando de manera específica en áreas en las que cuenta con una gran especialización:
    • Mejorar el análisis y la recopilación de datos (también sobre masculinidad, a saber, la idea de que los chicos tienen que ser agresivos y competitivos)
    • Garantizar la prestación de servicios integrados de calidad
      • Por desgracia, para acceder a medidas de protección social básicas como la vivienda, atención médica y ayudas económicas, muchas supervivientes se ven obligadas a acudir a múltiples lugares donde deben relatar una y otra vez su experiencia traumática. Con estos procesos lo único que se consigue es que las supervivientes revivan una y otra vez esos momentos, una situación que subraya la necesidad de integrar los servicios. El sistema de justicia puede estar tan fragmentado que las víctimas tienen que enfrentarse con frecuencia a múltiples procesos judiciales cuando acuden a la justicia para conseguir protección para ellas y sus familias, normalmente sin poder permitirse contratar a un abogado.
    • Promover la igualdad de acceso a la justicia
    • Abordar estereotipos de género perjudiciales por medio de la educación,
    • Velar por la aplicación de un enfoque “integral dentro de la administración” para poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres.


Leyes promulgados en ALC

  • Los países de ALC han promulgado leyes perfeccionadas, más robustas y de un alcance superior para eliminar la violencia.
    • En los últimos cinco años, cuatro de ellos han aprobado leyes integrales contra la violencia (Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú y Uruguay).
    • Y en los últimos 25 todos los países de ALC han contado con leyes relacionadas con la violencia contra las mujeres.
  • Estas nuevas leyes protegen a las mujeres de formas ancestrales de violencia sexual como el feminicidio, pero también de nuevas modalidades de acoso sexual como el ciberacoso.
    • Ecuador, Brasil, Paraguay y Uruguay tipificaron el feminicidio como delito en el período 2014–2019.
    • Hoy, 18 países de ALC definen ya el feminicidio como delito tras introducir las oportunas reformas en sus códigos penales.
  • Sin embargo, disponer de leyes de amplio alcance no tiene ninguna utilidad si estas no llegan a aplicarse. Y, en ese sentido, todavía son muchas las dificultades, lo que pone de manifiesto la necesidad de luchar contra convenciones sociales de fondo que son discriminatorias y perpetúan la vulneración del derecho básico de las mujeres a una vida sin violencia.
    • En muchos casos, las autoridades judiciales y policiales carecen de capacidad y formación para aplicar y hacer cumplir eficazmente la nueva legislación.


Las costumbres sociales y causes primordiales relacionadas con la violencia de género

  • Para luchar contra esta injusticia, resulta crucial modificar las costumbres sociales relacionadas con la violencia de género.
    • La campaña y llamada a la acción desarrollada en toda la región, bajo el lema “ni una más”, ha situado los elevados niveles de violencia de género registrados en América Latina y el Caribe en el radar político y mediático.
  • Las actitudes discriminatorias complican la aplicación de estas leyes:
    • Según indica el SIGI, una de cada tres mujeres justifica la violencia doméstica;
    • casi uno de cada tres hombres en todo el mundo considera justificado que se golpee a la esposa en determinadas circunstancias, por ejemplo si quema accidentalmente la comida.
    • En Perú, un 34% de las mujeres opina que la violencia doméstica está justificada en determinadas situaciones.
  • Convertir la transformación de las convenciones sociales en el eje central de la respuesta política puede contribuir a que se cumplan plenamente compromisos y leyes, abordando las causas principales del problema y promoviendo soluciones más holísticas de larga data.
  • El SIGI destaca mejores prácticas como la sensibilización y la formación mediante el aumento de la capacidad de los prestadores de servicios, así como del sistema judicial, la promoción de modelos de masculinidad más positivos o programas comunitarios para adolescentes en los que se cuestionen las costumbres relacionadas con la violencia de género.
  • Unas costumbres socioculturales perjudiciales fomentan masculinidades tóxicas.
  • Siempre incido en que debemos comenzar por la educación.
    • La neutralidad en materia de género de los libros de texto y currículos escolares constituye un punto de partida importante, aunque llevarlo a la práctica resulta más difícil de lo que podría parecer.
  • También tendremos que promover un cambio de comportamiento en cuanto al consumo de alcohol de los hombres, ya que está fuertemente asociado con el riesgo de violencia de género en contra de las mujeres.
    • Los datos de la OCDE muestran que en países de ingresos bajos y medios, el consumo nocivo de alcohol de los hombres se asocia con un riesgo 4,6 veces mayor de violencia de genero en contra de las mujeres.
    • Ademas, la OMS estima que aproximadamente el 55% de los perpetradores de abuso doméstico estaban bebiendo alcohol antes del asalto. Las mujeres que son abusadas tienen 15 veces más probabilidades de abusar del alcohol.


Ejemplos de mejores prácticas

  • Para ayudar a las mujeres víctimas de violencia –que incluso podrían sufrir una mayor violencia por estar atrapadas en sus hogares con sus abusadores, los gobiernos deberían asegurarse de que los prestadores de servicios colaboren entre sí, intercambien información y reflexionen a conciencia sobre cómo apoyar a las víctimas, teniendo en cuenta que sus medios de comunicación podrían ser controlados de cerca por el abusador con el que conviven.
    • Francia, por ejemplo, ha creado espacios de denuncia en los supermercados de todo el país, para que las víctimas puedan contar en ellos sus experiencias mientras hacen los recados.
  • Se necesitan soluciones prácticas e innovadoras. Durante el Segundo Grupo de Trabajo sobre Transversalidad de Género reunido el mes pasado, supe que España creó líneas de ayuda alternativas usando WhatsApp, Francia lo hizo mediante servicios SMS y Dinamarca, usando el correo electrónico. En las farmacias de Chile, España y Francia, introdujeron el código “Mascarilla 19” para que las mujeres víctimas de violencia pudieran pedir ayuda.
  • Argentina aprobó una excepción para saltarse la cuarentena obligatoria en el caso de las mujeres víctimas de violencia.
  • Ecuador y Uruguay generaron protocolos de comunicación y gestión de la violencia doméstica para los centros de salud de emergencia y la policía durante la cuarentena.

Algunas de las mejores prácticas que incluye el Informe del SIGI relativo a ALC son:

  • Prevenir la violencia de género en las esferas pública y privada: Desde 2005, Oxfam lidera el programa de prevención de la violencia de género de El Salvador. Adoptando un enfoque centrado en las convenciones sociales, este programa se dirige a mujeres, hombres y jóvenes en sesiones formativas, campañas en los medios y con la creación de redes. De este modo, aumentan la capacidad de las autoridades públicas nacionales y municipales para integrar mejor la prevención de la violencia de género en sus prácticas y políticas. En 2008, este programa influyó en la redacción de una ley de prevención de la violencia de género. También se impartieron cursos de capacitación para sensibilizar sobre cuestiones de género a 165 funcionarios públicos, miembros de la policía e integrantes del sistema de justica.
  • Capacitar a las mujeres indígenas mediante cursos de formación jurídica: En Guatemala, la ONG Iniciativa de los Derechos de la Mujer lleva desde 2011 trabajando con 15 comunidades mayas diferentes. Esta organización imparte cursos de capacitación jurídica a las mujeres indígenas con la finalidad de animarlas a que reivindiquen sus derechos y facilitar su acceso a servicios jurídicos.
  • Sensibilizar sobre la violencia de género mediante una campaña que alcance a toda la región: En 2013, la Campaña ÚNETE poner fin a la violencia contra las mujeres puso en marcha la iniciativa “El Valiente no es Violento” en nueve países de América Latina y el Caribe (Argentina, Bolivia, Brasil, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, México, Perú y Venezuela). Bajo la coordinación de ONU Mujeres, esta campaña de comunicación conjunta se alía con medios locales como MTV América Latina para conseguir la implicación de hombres y niños en la lucha contra la violencia de género.
  • Prestar asistencia inmediata a las víctimas de violencia de género a través de una línea telefónica


El papel de las organizaciones internacionales

  • Copresidí una Mesa redonda de mujeres líderes sobre COVID-19 y el futuro junto con Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, directora ejecutiva de ONU Mujeres.
    • Con ocasión de dicho acontecimiento, compartimos experiencias, preocupaciones y mejores prácticas. Una de las preocupaciones principales era la amenaza de la violencia contra las mujeres. Las líderes comentaron medidas concretas, tales como:
      • Integrar los esfuerzos y servicios de prevención para responder a la violencia contra las mujeres en los planes de respuesta al COVID-19.
      • Designar los centros de acogida para víctimas de violencia doméstica como servicios esenciales y ampliar los recursos de los que disponen tanto dichos centros como los grupos de la sociedad civil que se encuentran en la primera línea de respuesta.
      • Ampliar la capacidad de los centros de acogida para víctimas de violencia reconvirtiendo otros espacios, por ejemplo centros educativos u hoteles vacíos, con el fin de atender las necesidades existentes en períodos de cuarentena, integrando factores de accesibilidad total.
      • Designar espacios seguros para las mujeres, en los que puedan denunciar abusos sin que sus maltratadores se percaten, por ejemplo, en establecimientos de alimentación o farmacias.
      • Prestar los servicios en línea; intensificar las campañas de sensibilización y defensa, dirigiéndolas incluso a los hombres que están en casa.
  • La utilidad de las organizaciones internacionales en este debate reside en reunir a las partes interesadas, e intercambiar y difundir mejores prácticas.
  • La OCDE brinda mejores prácticas en este sentido y también realiza un seguimiento de los progresos hacia la consecución de las Recomendaciones en materia de género de 2013 y 2015.
    • La OCDE desempeña además un papel esencial en el refuerzo de la coordinación y en garantizar que todas las instituciones públicas actúen conjuntamente, de manera coherente y sistemática, para prevenir y encarar la violencia doméstica.
    • En la OCDE, se ha creado recientemente un Grupo de Trabajo sobre Transversalidad de Género y Gobernanza que desempeña una importante función a la hora de garantizar la integración de los problemas de violencia contra las mujeres y las políticas en esta materia en todos los ministerios y a todos los niveles.
  • La “Recomendación del CAD para prevenir la explotación, el abuso y el acoso sexuales en la cooperación al desarrollo y la asistencia humanitaria” adoptada en julio de 2019, es la primera norma internacional que orienta a donantes, gobiernos y partes interesadas en el fomento del cambio organizacional y el liderazgo en la prestación de ayuda internacional.


¿Qué podemos esperar al respecto en el mediano y largo plazos en el desarrollo socioeconómico y cultural? ¿Cuáles son los hallazgos principales de investigaciones recientes sobre el tema?

  • El objetivo del SIGI de la OCDE es calcular el verdadero costo de la violencia contra las mujeres en términos económicos y también sociales.
  • Las conclusiones del SIGI para la región ALC muestran que la violencia contra las mujeres provoca importantes gastos e impactos en el PIB (además del perjudicial efecto que tienen los estereotipos de género y una escasa participación de la mujer en el mercado de trabajo):
  • Impactos económicos de las mujeres
    • Con su participación en la economía de mercado, las mujeres generan un 37% del PIB mundial, un porcentaje considerablemente inferior al que se podría alcanzar habida cuenta de que representan un 50% de la población activa mundial.
    • Aunque las mujeres ya participan ampliamente en los mercados de trabajo de ALC, todavía queda mucho camino por recorrer para conseguir la paridad: las mujeres trabajadoras generan actualmente cerca del 33% del PIB de esta región, pese a representar un 42% de la fuerza de trabajo y un 51% de la población activa.
  • Costo económico de la violencia doméstica y la violencia contra las mujeres:
    • Los datos de algunos países de la región ALC indican que los gastos directos, la pérdida de ingresos y el descenso de productividad ocasionados solamente por la violencia doméstica pueden alcanzar hasta un 4% del PIB, una cifra que supera el gasto en educación primaria de muchos gobiernos.
    • Las pérdidas económicas comprenden la pérdida de ingresos por parte de las mujeres, los costos del sistema de justicia, la pérdida de productividad de las mujeres, los días que han faltado al trabajo y los gastos en atención médica y cuidado de la salud.
    • Por ejemplo, aparte de los gastos médicos directos de las víctimas, el costo directo que supuso el tratamiento de 640 víctimas de violencia doméstica en el Kingston Public Hospital de Jamaica equivalió a USD 454 000.
    • Los costos indirectos de la violencia contra las mujeres incluyen el descenso de productividad y el absentismo laboral.
    • Esta lacra perjudica también la rentabilidad de las empresas.
      • La violencia contra las mujeres conlleva también un elevado costo para las empresas en términos de rotación de personal y productividad. En Perú, la tasa de rotación de las trabajadoras en empresas cuyas mujeres son víctimas de violencia doméstica es siete veces superior a la registrada en empresas cuyas trabajadoras no sufren este tipo de violencia, lo que genera un costo superior a USD 55 millones. Asimismo, debido a la violencia contra las mujeres, se pierden 70 millones de días de trabajo, lo que supone un coste de USD 6.700 millones en todo el país, equivalentes a un 3,7% del PIB.
      • Si sumamos todos los costos asociados a la violencia contra las mujeres, se observa claramente que esta lacra genera un gasto ingente. Los costos de la violencia contra las mujeres en la región de ALC son realmente importantes, aún más si tenemos en cuenta que el cálculo no refleja el costo real, pues no incluye los costos relacionados con el sistema de justicia penal.
      • En Estados Unidos observamos un ejemplo interesante, ya que se calcula que allí la violencia doméstica contra las mujeres tiene un costo de USD 5.900 millones al año. Cerca de USD 4.100 millones corresponden a costos directos de servicios de atención médica y psiquiátrica, USD 900 millones a la pérdida de productividad en el trabajo doméstico no retribuido y en trabajos retribuidos, en el mercado en el caso de víctimas de violencia no fatal, y otros USD 900 millones a ingresos que las víctimas de casos de homicidio dejaron de percibir por haber perdido la vida.

Interview with the Data Policy Circle of the Digital Transformation for Universal Health Coverage 2030 Coalition

On Tuesday 2 June 2020, Gabriela Ramos participated in an interview with UHC2030 on Data Protection. Find her speaking points below.


The COVID-19 pandemic is a fundamentally social crisis. The virus spreads between people, and impacts individuals, households and communities. Any country’s response to the pandemic must be guided by social data and expertise as much as by medical data and expertise. Failing to identify and address social impacts of the pandemic opens the way for devastating social damage and loss of life.

Clearly, a pandemic response guided by only medical or economic data alone is inadequate. Social data could also shape the response. 

Gender equality in universal health coverage

  • First, we need to understand that we will be living alongside this virus long past initial deconfinement efforts until vaccines are developed.
  • Thus, investment in R&D for accelerated development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines will be critical.
  • But more importantly, this crisis is an important reminder that high-quality and affordable universal health coverage is crucial to protect the most vulnerable and to ensure access to diagnostics and treatment. I know this personally as I contributed to dramatically increasing Mexico’s health coverage from only 48.3% of the population in 2002 to 89.3% today.
  • And if the aim of UHC is to leave no one behind then gender equality is an essential ingredient.
  • UHC needs to address sex-and gender-based determinants of health; including how sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and gender-based violence disproportionately affect the health of women, whereas men are more likely to die from tobacco use, suicide, and road injuries. The following factors need to be taken into account:
    • Women exposed to intimate partner violence (1 in 3 globally) are: twice as likely to experience depression, 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV, 1.5 times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections.
    • With the COVID-19 confinement measures, cases of domestic violence have risen sharply.  In Brazil it has been estimated that cases have risen by 40–50%, similar levels have been reported in the UK and many other countries.
    • Also, women live longer than men, but female longevity is associated with a greater lifetime risk of functional disability and chronic illnesses (incl. cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and the need for long-term care).
    • Women typically care for her husband at the end of his life, and then go on without the same intensive personal care.
    • Therefore, compared to older men, older women are more likely to need long-term care, and need it for longer periods, while  also  being  less  likely  to  afford  it,  due  to,  among  other  reasons, lower  labour  market  participation, lower lifetime earnings and lower pensions.
    • Women have more unmet health needs than men. Across EU countries, women are 40% more likely to report some unmet needs for medical care than men, mainly due to financial reasons. 
    • Women are at a higher risk of poverty than men [Across the OECD, the average relative poverty rate for women is 12.3%, while 10.9% for men. The highest gender gap can be found in Korea, Latvia, Estonia in the OECD].
    • Twice as many women as men aged over 65 live alone in G20 countries. Pension payment to 65+ women are 25% lower than for men.
    • Also, we have estimated at the outset of the pandemic that 1 in 3 financially vulnerable people (including single mothers) will fall into poverty without 3 months’ of income loss.
  • Data disaggregated by sex and gender is urgently needed not only in the design of UHC interventions, but also in monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that the most vulnerable women and girls are not left behind. Gender-responsive UHC will even up life chances between genders, as well as between rich and poor women within and between countries.
  • This is also why the OECD has been partnering with WHO and ILO since the establishment of the Working for Health Programme in 2017 (a joint inter-agency multi-SDG programme to accelerate the expansion and transformation of the health and social workforce). In this programme, we embrace gender as a core tenant and seeks to utilize workforce plans, investments and actions to seize the opportunities to realise gender equality.

Women in health care and lack of gender disaggregated data

  • This crisis should force us to give women in the health care workforce more priority because…
    • Facts:
      • Women comprise 70% of the health and social care workers, 85% of nurses and over 90% of long-term care workers across OECD countries. In some countries and regions, nursing homes are predominantly staffed by immigrant women, migrants and refugees – mostly women of colour.[1]
      • They will also be central to filling a global shortfall of 40 million new health and social care jobs globally by 2030 to achieve UHC. Then we need to go beyond business as usual to promote more investment and decent working condition for the female health workforce.
      • However, they hold only 25% of global health leadership posts and generally have lower status, lower pay [Overall, an average gender pay gap of around 28% exists in the health workforce. And 12% gender pay gap for nurses], or even unpaid roles [nearly half of the workload is unpaid].
    • There are huge gender gaps in data and research:
      • Widespread gaps in the data were found in low income countries.
      • Major gaps in data in all areas, particularly sexual harassment and data comparable across countries on the gender pay gap
      • For example, much of women’s work health/social care are unpaid and excluded in gender pay gap data.
    • What’s needed?
      • To map out the impact first, our priority should be to: apply a gender and intersectionality lens; include sex- and gender-disaggregated data; and include the entire health and social workforce, including the social care workforce. Research must go beyond describing the gender inequities to also evaluate the impact of gender-transformative interventions.
      • Such mapping will aid understanding of context- specific factors, including sociocultural dimensions. Moreover, research focused on implementation and translation into policy is needed to assess the viability and effectiveness of policies and inform gender-transformative policy action.

Use of digital technology

  • Ongoing expansion of testing and tracing capacity is crucial, as is effective management of large and rapidly changing data flows on the spread of the pandemic. [Further below on privacy concerns]
  • SDG Goal 3 (UHC for all by 2030) is un be attainable without effective use of AI, digital and frontier technologies. Digital innovation will be key in addressing issues around financial risk protection, including fintech and digital financial solutions for health insurance schemes, and access to quality essential healthcare services. In this sense, I commend the work of the Digital Transformation for UHC 2030 Coalition that you are spearheading with other partners including Women Deliver.
  • Unfortunately, there is arguably no other sector than the healthcare that generates quite as much data and, at the same time, fails to coordinate the data in effective, useful ways.
  • The failure to extract and use information contained in health data, which exist already, is a significant missed opportunity to improve services and care.
    • Waste:
      • For example, the OECD finds that 10% of patients are unnecessarily harmed during care. The health burden of this in OECD countries is on par with diseases such as multiple sclerosis and some cancers.
      • The direct financial impact is as high as 15% of hospital expenditure, and the broader economic drag estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. The most common root cause is a failure of communication – information and knowledge not reaching the right person at the right time. Better information exchange makes care not only safer but also more effective and efficient.
      • Care can be better coordinated by different providers and integrated with other services, with better results and less duplication and waste (20-30% of the adult population in OECD countries have multiple chronic conditions, and for them, accessing care can be frustrating when not integrated as one service).
      • Enabling access to the electronic health or medical record (EHR or EMR) by all actors involved in a patient’s care is a key structural component of a high-quality health system
  • To harness the benefit while addressing the risks of data privacy, the OECD has already come up with the Recommendation of the OECD Council on Health Data Governance in 2017.
    • With 12 principles, this recommendation set the conditions to encourage greater cross-country comparison and harmonisation of data governance frameworks so that more countries are able to use health data for research, statistics and healthcare quality improvement.
    • Unfortunately, despite the important gender dimension in long-term care, there continues to be little gender-disaggregated data on many key indicators (e.g. ability to pay, access to care, working conditions, training, etc.)
    • Only half of the 35 OECD countries (with available data) have national policies in place to address how data from electronic health records can inform clinicians, monitor disease outbreaks, conduct research and improve patient safety. Only half of OECD countries regularly link their existing health datasets to monitor healthcare quality[2].
      • More specifically, approximately 70% of responding countries to the 2016 OECD survey reported that people can access their record, while only 43% reported that individuals could interact with their own record (e.g. enter information, send requests, communicate with providers).
      • Nevertheless, good progress can also be found in some countries.
        • Estonia has a unified EHR, which enables residents to view all of their medical data in one place – including diagnoses, test results, medications. Residents can also interact with their data. They can update their details, supplement existing information, and carry out administrative processes such as obtaining a medical certificate for a driver’s license without needing a specific appointment.
        • Lithuania has implemented a centralised ‘one resident – one record’ EHR system that covers 95% of the population.
    • Better governance of healthcare data is possible and can lift performance. For instance, public reporting of healthcare quality indicators gives patients the information needed to identify the best healthcare provider, and acts as a powerful incentive for failing healthcare providers to change for the better[3]
  • Looking forward data gaps must also be bridged to ensure better quality healthcare for women and girls, and appropriate data systems are needed to ensure that health care quality is monitored and improved.
  • Furthermore, today’s global health emergencies highlight the importance of coherent, comparable and timely data shared and used across borders, within and between countries. When data sharing and linkage are most needed, data are not trapped in silos, difficult to exchange or shared with significant delays.[4] Here are good examples:
    • Korea[5] was able to trace infections by combining location data (including data collected from mobile devices) with personal identification information, medical and prescription records, immigration records, card transaction data for credit, debit, and prepaid cards, transit pass records for public transportation, and closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage. While there are certainly privacy concerns, the approach has wide public support.
      • And Korea had a good foundation to move fast in using health data since already before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country was in the process of integrating the national health insurance database (NHID) with clinical records, health care activities as well as data from outside of the health system including climate, pollution and geolocation data.
    • Chinese Taipei [6] used real-time health data from existing insurance coverage databases, linked to other data such as customs and immigration data. During clinical visits, when health care providers scan patients’ health insurance cards, an alert can be issued based on patients’ travel history and clinical symptoms. This data can be analysed to identify and test patients for COVID-19 who had severe respiratory symptoms.
  • There are also opportunities to better leverage Artificial intelligence. (AI) algorithms that learn from human decisions will also learn human mistakes, biases and stereotypes.
    • However, the AI sector is very gender and race imbalanced[7], suggesting that biased and stereotypical predictions might not be flagged by developers working to validate model outputs.
    • For example, Apple’s HealthKit, an application to track intake of selenium and copper, neglected to include a women’s menstrual cycle tracker until iOS 9; the development team reportedly did not include any women.[8]
    • And more generally, a study found that men were almost 6 times more likely than women to be shown ads for high-paying executive jobs.
    • Research has shown that AI systems sold by tech giants have error rates of max1% for lighter-skinned men and 35% for darker-skinned women.
    • AI can infringe on human rights and privacy: risk of data manipulation & sharing; identification and tracking; speech and facial recognition. Evidence of AI tech being used by governments to spy on civil society and activists.
    • AI can infringe on democracy: algorithms and ‘bots’ help share fake news, violent images, harvest & sell data (Cambridge Analytica) and drive echo chambers, especially on social media.
    • Part of solution (common ground) can be found in the OECD AI Principles (AI should: contribute to inclusive and sustainable growth and well-being; be used in ways that respect human-centred values and fairness; be transparent and explainable; robust, secure and safe; and accountable).

Use of date in the COVID-19 pandemic: Privacy or effectiveness? We need an international consensus on health data governance…

  • Recent OECD research has found that around a half of all people across the OECD have accessed health information online.
  • These are encouraging examples of how data can help policymakers improve patients’ lives, but more needs to be done.
  • Health data are personal and sensitive, and in the wrong hands, can be used to harm patients through a loss of their privacy; discrimination in areas such as health insurance or employment; and identity theft. Such data breaches and misuses weaken public trust, not just in healthcare providers but in policymakers, too.
  • The rising risk of cyber attacks and the growing suite of new technologies to secure data, make the data protection environment as vital as it is challenging.

Then comes the issue of data governance and privacy…

  • Half of the world’s population now connected to the Internet. As data becomes a key resource, issues of data governance rise. Foremost amongst these is the challenge of preserving openness by advancing trust in digital technologies [i.e., criminals taking advantage of the free flow of information; greater potential for fraud; loss of control over privacy and personal data; digital security breaches; and of course conflicting laws across legal jurisdictions creating friction.]
  • And at the OECD, we found that privacy is a top priority for citizens.
    • In 2016, more than 70% of Internet users in the EU provided personal information online, with many also performing actions to control access to these data.
    • In 2017, 46% of all Internet users in Europe refused to allow the use of personal information for advertising and 40% limited access to their profile or content on social networking sites.
    • More than 1/3 of Internet users read privacy policy statements before providing personal information and restricted access to their geographical location.
  • This caution is certainly warranted.
    • In 2015, around 3% of all Internet users across OECD countries reported having experienced a privacy violation in the three months prior to being surveyed. And keep in mind that this is the figure just for reported violations.
    • In countries such as Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey, there was a notable increase in privacy violations as reported by individuals between 2010 and 2015.
    • In 2016, 64% of individuals in the United States experienced or had been notified of a significant data breach pertaining to their personal data or accounts.
    • People are also concerns over the protection of personal data handled by the public authority. In 2018, 18% of EU28 citizens chose not to submit forms to public authorities, 20% of them citing concerns about the protection of personal data as the reason.
  • IP theft has become a serious concern 
    • Small businesses accounted for 43 % of all attacks, while healthcare and financial services organizations made up 15 % and 10 %, respectively.
    • In 51% cases, IP theft resulted from human error (e.g. lost device, unintended disclosure or tailgating), malware infiltrations were reported in 43%.   
  •  And as we all know, data breaches have increased in scale and frequency [Facebook and WhatsApp data breach is fresh in our memory].
  • People need to know their rights, and have a say on how their data is used. We cannot harness the digital economy to improve people’s lives without ensuring the trust of citizens in digital technologies. But we must move forward together.
  • Against this backdrop, the OECD Privacy Guidelines (adopted in 1980, revised in 2013) will continue to serve as a key reference point. The OECD is a leader in the filed of privacy, working for almost 40 years. The Guidelines were the first internationally agreed set of privacy principles that apply to the protection of personal data, whether in the public or private sectors, and have influenced legislation and policy in OECD Member countries and beyond.
    • Since digital security and privacy is a moving target and there are also emerging threats to contend with, the OECD is currently undertaking a review of the Guidelines.  
    • One area we think is of as particularly important with regard to industry and government collaboration is further elaborating on mechanisms for increased accountability.
      • We will undergo further consultation with experts over the course of 2020 to review the Guidlines particularly in the áreas of:
        • Data ethics (recognising the importance of issues that are complementary to regulatory privacy issues, including issues like fairness, respect for human dignity, autonomy, self-determination, the risk of bias and discrimination).
        • Data portability (aiming to address still unresolved challenges such as regarding the scope of data portability regulation (i.e. what type of data should be subject to the data portability regulation), the role of voluntary data portability initiatives, and the need for standards.)

Contact tracing app (the case of France and TTT concerns in general)

  • And just today (2 June noon) in France where I am now, StopCovid tracking application was made available. Now we can freely download and use the app on our phone. And this coincides with the cautious reopening of bars and restraurants terraces across France.
  • The purpose of the StopCovid application is to let users know if they have been in the vicinity of people who may have been infected with the Covid-19 virus.
  • Of course there are privacy fears, but the value for money is also highlighted by the French State Minister for Digital Affairs, Cedric O (no more than a few hundred thousand euros per month).
  • And also there is concern over effectiveness – we need 50-60% of French people installing the app for contact-tracing to be effective. But this will be difficult because 25% of French people don’t have a smartphone.
  • But already, 22 countries have chosen to develop a contact-tracing app that relies on the interface developed by Apple and Google. 
  • A digital approach to widespread use of TTT is likely to be a key part of a successful exit strategy, but there is a risk of public identification of individuals and resulting stigma, whether confirmed infected, suspected infected or susceptible, even with anonymised data.
  • All OECD countries either have existing legal provisions or may enact laws that enable infringement of privacy due to a threat to public security. In enacting new laws or provisions, individuals should have a right to a judicial remedy and the provisions should be time bound so that the surveillance does not become permanent.
  • Most importantly, responses should align with the OECD Privacy Guidelines and with the aforementioned Recommendation on Health Data Governance, particularly with respect to public transparency of data uses. The Recommendation is useful because it represents an international consensus about the framework conditions within which health data can be appropriately governed, so that health data processing can take place both domestically and transnationally in ways that can reduce risk and improve benefits for health systems and patients.
    • Ensuring a supervisory body or watchdog will monitor the implementation of surveillance technologies and inform the public of new surveillance technologies and of their rights is recommended.
  • Policy makers, in consultation with privacy enforcement authorities (PEAs), must assess the possible trade-offs in data utilisation during this crisis (reconciling the risks and benefits), but must ensure that any extraordinary measures are proportionate to the risks and are implemented with full transparency, accountability and a commitment to immediately cease or reverse exceptional uses of data when the crisis is over.
    • In practice, few countries have frameworks in place to support these extraordinary measures in ways that are fast, secure, trustworthy, scalable and in compliance with existing privacy and data protection regulations. For example, South Korea, Singapore, Israel already had extraordinary powers or could issue emergency measures to collect personal data, but others had to pass laws for data collection.
  • Privacy enforcement authorities (PEAs) have a key role to play in advising on proposed new government legislation and providing clarity regarding the application of existing privacy and data protection frameworks.
    • As of mid-April 2020, Privacy Enforcement Authorities (PEAs) in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have published general guidance for data controllers and processors about the application of their privacy and data protection laws in the crisis. The European Data Protection Board, GDPR and Convention 108 do not hinder measures taken in the fight against COVID but do require measures to be limited to emergency period.

Digital gender divide

  • Half of the world’s population still does not have access to the internet. Even worse, 250 million fewer women than men are online.
  • Actually, all the gender gaps as we know them (of representation, of distribution of unpaid work, on wage gap, on leadership gap) will pale with the trends we are seeing in the digital world.
  • There are few girls who opt for ICT disciplines.
    • At age 15, only 0.5% of girls in OECD countries want to become ICT professionals, compared to 5% of boys. Twice as many boys as girls expect to become engineers, scientists or architects.
  • Adults with a tertiary degree in engineering manufacturing and construction and natural sciences, mathematics and statistics earn over 60% more than adults with upper secondary education, women are not well represented in this field.
    • This is especially worrying for women who graduate at higher rates from tertiary education (58%) but are still underrepresented in STEM fields: only 24% of engineering graduates and 25% of ICT graduates were women
    • This plays into exclusion of women in innovative startups:
      • 90% of software development is done by male only teams
      • Women-owned start-ups receive 23% less funding and are 30% less likely to be bought up or issue an IPO than male-owned businesses.
  • Beyond re-thinking how to bridge these divides, we should also reframe the way we deal with the technology, not only to be prepare individuals to master it, but to be in charge of its development and impact. First, to use technology to find answers for the social and environmental challenges we face, but second to avoid the downsides of this technologies as we saw in Christchurch.
  • And, the digital divide is not just about women, but about children from disadvantaged background.
    • Let’s look at France for example. The OECD estimates that each week that a school closes represents on average 26 hours of face-to-face learning time (data available for colleague level, general education), which equals 2.8% of the time total instruction year.
    • The capacity and adaptability to compensate for the projected loss in learning varies according to socio-economic profiles of students.
    • And of course the ones that lost most are those from low-income and/or single-parent families.
    • Because… across the OECD, 22% of children from the lowest socio-economic status don’t have internet access and are left behind in this full digital learning environment.
    • Furthermore, on average across OECD, more than 30% of 15-year-old socio-economically disadvantaged students do not have a quiet place to study at home (as opposed to 10% of advantaged students).
    • During the Covid-19 epidemic, despite government efforts, online courses and classes have been difficult to access for disadvantaged students. Providing children with free or affordable devices and internet access could be one way of tackling the digital divide between students from different backgrounds to make up for the unequal starting conditions.









High-Level Roundtable: Gender Equality and COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery: The G7’s Role

On 12 May 2020, Gabriela delivered remarks at the UN Women High-Level Roundtable on Gender Equality and COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery: the G7’s Role. Find below her remarks delivered on the topic of “women and entrepreneurship in COVID-19 crisis response and recovery.”

For more information consult the UN Women press release.

  • I’d like to thank EU, UN Women and ILO for organising this important meeting, following up on the G7 commitment. And also great to see B4IG partners here today [Unilever, L’Oreal].
  • Indeed, since the G7 Leaders endorsed the G7 Principles on Women’s Entrepreneurship in 2015 (with the support of the OECD), successive G7 Presidencies have made enormous efforts to advance women’s business as one of their priorities.
  • Still, far fewer women than men start, run and maintain their own businesses.
    • Women are almost half as likely as men to be involved in starting a new business in the EU.
    • Only 5% of women in the EU were established business owners between 2014 and 2018, which was below the share of men (8.4%)
    • Female founders are less likely than male founders to have a successful exit (9% vs. 13%).
  • These gaps exist often because of a mixture of economic and cultural barriers.
  • Women lack access to finance, markets, skills, leadership opportunities and networks.
  • And these cultural barriers may play a systemic role in creating specific market failures.
    • Stereotypes and lower exposure of women to role models can explain why women report a lower interest in an entrepreneurial career, and often believe they are not capable to become successful entrepreneurs. Women are more likely to report a fear of failure than men (42% vs. 36% across the OECD).
    • Only 37.7% of women (compared to half of men) in the OECD countries felt that they had the knowledge and skills to start a business.
    • Women report using bank loans less frequently than men do, instead relying on personal savings and spousal funds to start their businesses.
    • Self-employed women earn significantly less than men across countries (35% on average across the G7 countries).
    • Furthermore, female entrepreneurs have “double assignments”, running an enterprise and a household at the same time (women spend up to ten times as much as men globally for unpaid work).
  • The COVID-19 crisis will only exacerbate these existing gender gaps in business.
  • The OECD has conducted a survey since February, and found that more than half of SMEs are already experiencing severe drop in revenue. 1/3 fear to be out of business without further support within 1 month. Today, three months into the COVID-19 crisis, women-owned businesses will continue to suffer from liquidity shortage.
  • Of course, governments have been taking action to support the self-employed by:
    • Raising the amount of funding available for loan guarantees significantly [i.e., Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, Switzerland, UK].
    • Intensifying guarantee schemes to banks to strengthen loans to SMEs [i.e., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong China, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, UK.
    • Many countries are providing subsidized online training course (i.e., China, Australia)  or provide counselling service for entrepreneurs (i.e., Finland, New Zealand).
  • However, NONE of the actions to date have focussed specifically on women-owned businesses!
  • To emerge stronger from the crisis, we need TARGETED policy measures to protect women-owned business in the recovery efforts.
    • We need improved access to financing through credit guarantee schemes for women entrepreneurs.
    • We need training programs and counselling services to help female enterprises survive and come back stronger from the crisis.
  • More importantly, we need to continue fighting for more female role models. Because we cannot be what we cannot see. We need inspiration, we need encouragement, we need peer support.
    • Currently, women only make up 25% of boards of the largest publicly listed companies in the OECD, and only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Increasing women’s leadership will contribute to improved access to networks of supporters, making them more resilient to future shocks.
  • We cannot wait until women entrepreneurs are hit disproportionately by the economic fall-out. Apart from immediate financial support to support the business survival and continuity, governments now have the opportunity to promote family friendly policies, dual parenting programs and equal share of unpaid work.
  • The measures government take now will determine the post-COVID world, and the public-private alliance of WE EMPOWER can represent women’s voices to make sure the new normal will be more gender inclusive than before!
  • Let me hear your experiences going through this crisis to identify some missing elements in our response and recovery efforts.

WEF COVID Action Platform – Social Sector Leaders

On 30 April 2020 Gabriela Ramos participated in the third virtual World Economic Forum COVID Social Sector Mobilisation Platform call, which brought togeter leaders from Civil Society, the Schwab Foundation, Philanthropy, and Young Global Leaders. The COVID Social Sector Mobilization Platform consists of four priorities: Mobilizing a collaborative response between the social sector, governments and business; Generating COVID-related support for civil society organizations around the world; Influencing policy through concrete recommendations and evidence-based knowledge; Identifying opportunities for investments and funding on systems-changing interventions.

Find below her remarks and panel talking points as delivered.

Opening Remarks

First and foremost, I want to take this opportunity to commend the work of frontline essential workers, nurses and doctors and care-workers, to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to save lives. And my deepest condolences to those who have suffered and lost on account of the virus or saving others.

Covid-19 is causing large-scale loss of life and severe human suffering. It is overburdening health systems worldwide and posing a threat to the global economy at a magnitude not seen in recent times.

We are facing a lot of uncertainties.

  • OECD projects a decline in annual GDP growth of 2 ppt for each month of confinement.
  • Many economies are experiencing sharp and sudden contractions in output, falling to record lows in Europe in both manufacturing and service sectors.
  • Global trade is now contracting (global merchandise trade for JAN and FEB is 2.5% weaker than a year earlier).
  • Global air traffic has fallen rapidly. At the major international airports of the G20 countries, the total number of commercial flight departures was 80% lower than in the latter half of February.
  • Global production and retail sales fell. (5.2% and 12% lower respectively in February than in 2019Q4)
  • Effects on workers have been dire across countries. ILO estimates 2.7 billion workers will be affected (81% of global workforce), with new unemployment benefit claims in some countries increasing 10 times ‘normal’ rates.

These impacts will fall asymmetrically on our societies.

  • This crisis is exposing widespread inequalities between socioeconomic groups, regions, gender, and generations that we have yet to fix since the 2008 crisis.
  • The most vulnerable are impacted by this economic fallout, the financially insecure, those in precarious employment conditions such as gig, informal, domestic, and migrant workers, with low levels of education.
  • Even prior to the crisis, the bottom 40% of the population were financially insecure, meaning they were at high risk of falling into poverty with 3 months of income-loss. This figure climbs to over 60% in some OECD countries. As confinement stretches on this risk becomes almost a definite!

And many more social implications…

  • Those with pre-existing physical and mental health conditions will struggle to receive the support they need.
  • Women are increasingly facing violence due to confinement (30% increase in major economies). Even before the crisis, more than 1 in 3 women had experienced IPV.
  • Youth are at risk of losing prosperous future. Existing education and skills gaps between those with low versus high socioeconomic backgrounds can further widen as we all go digital.
  • We know for a fact that youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to return to schooling following disruptions and the same goes for girls in developing countries, particularly in rural regions.
  • And children – how do we ensure their well-being during the crisis? Civil society has a key role to play as they can provide essential services and goods (food, social service) speedier than governments.

In immediate response measures we need to pay special attention to these inequalities and put people at the centre, investing in the areas people need most: social protection, health care, elderly care, childcare support, income support (also for informal workers – especially in the developing country context where 90% of workers are informal), support for small business owners, extending unemployment benefits.

  • The OECD provides a wealth of recommendations on our COVD-19 digital hub with policy recommendations across all government mandates.

In order for these measures to reach those who need it most we need partnership and collaboration between public, private, social, and civic sectors.

  • We must incorporate the viewpoints of civil society organisations close to the groups we wish to reach.
  • We must promote R&D for companies that can provide essential sanitary and chemical products.
  • We must incentivize the private sector to provide education materials and digital technologies to students and teachers in disadvantaged areas.

More fundamentally, the priorities we set in our recovery strategies will define our post-COVID world. This crisis is bringing to light the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our current economic, social, political systems. We must not only ensure that the effects of inequalities are not compounded during this crisis. But we must create a new narrative that puts people and well-being at the centre of our policies. We must also work to make our health, economic, political, and social systems more resilient and better prepared for the next unavoidable shock.

At the OECD, our policy guidance centres around this objective and we stand ready to partner with governments at all scales and various sectors to achieve the world people deserve. I am also happy to hear from partners after this meeting for any suggestions for collaboration. 


Economic Global Outlook:

The exact scale of the economic shock arising from the implementation of containment measures is extremely difficult to quantify, but is clear that many economies are experiencing sharp and sudden contractions in output, spending and employment.

  • OECD estimates show that we can expect a decline in annual GDP growth of 2 percentage points for each month that strict containment measures continue.
  • Indicators of output fell to record lows in Europe in both manufacturing and service sectors.

Global trade is now contracting

  • Data for merchandise trade data from the CPB show declines in global merchandise trade in both January and February, with trade 2.5% weaker than a year earlier.
  • Global air traffic has fallen rapidly as the crisis has intensified. The total number of commercial flight departures recorded by Flightradar in April (until 28th) was 71% lower than in the latter half of February. At the major international airports of the G20 countries the decline is even steeper, at 80%.
  • Global production and retail sales in February were 5.2% and 12% lower respectively than in 2019Q4, largely reflecting sizeable declines in China.

Effects on workers have been dire across countries

  • ILO estimates 2.7B workers will be affected (81% of global workforce)
  • In the US Over the five weeks to April 18 nearly 26.5 million workers inistigated new claims for unemployment benefits, an unprecedented shock. The cumulative number of new claims is larger than total US job growth between 2009Q4 and 2020Q1.

Policy measures

Social Protection

  • Automatically extend social protection entitlements (e.g. for disability, child support, poor families) that  cannot  be  renewed  in  person  or  online  due  to,  for  example,  quarantine,  illness,  excessive number of requests, technical difficulties or lack of access to digital platforms.
  • Increase capacity to effectively register and process the rising number of unemployment cases, if needed  prioritising  financially  vulnerable  groups,  such  as  single  parents,  young  people,  people  educated below tertiary level, and for couples with children, who are also among those who have to deal with school closures and new care responsibilities. 
  • Workers with low job security will be hit hardest and should receive unemployment coverage, even if not meeting the criteria (e.g. uninterrupted employment for six months or more in some countries).
  • Introduce temporary support for non-standard workers and persons in the informal economy who are not covered or entitled to social protection.
  • Provide income support of vulnerable groups, such as sick workers and their families; quarantined workers, who cannot work remotely; workers losing their jobs and the self-employed and others in non-standard forms of work who are experiencing a drop in activity.  
  • Extending paid sick leave coverage to non-standard workers, including the self-employed.
  • Support SMEs in covering the financial compensation during sick leave thus encouraging workers to remain isolated as long as needed.
  • Strengthen  in  particular  income  support  to  financially  vulnerable  groups (single  parents, young  people,  people  educated  below tertiary level, and for couples with children, who are also among those who have to deal with school closures and new care responsibilities).
  • Introduce more flexibility in short-term work schemes, allowing to recruit and train job seekers to step in for ill and quarantined workers. 
  • Consider  the  specific  needs  of  women,  who  are  likely  to  take  on  a  greater  share  of  the  caring  responsibilities  for  children  and  the  elderly,  as  a  consequence  of  more  often  being  “secondearners”, e.g. address possible consequences on their social security contributions and pensions.
  • Organise delivery of essential supplies to socially isolated groups (e.g. the elderly) and persons in quarantine and treatment (for cases not requiring hospitalisation).
  • Co-ordinate  regular  check-ins  with  people  at  risk  of  isolation  and  loneliness  for  the benefit  of  psychological  and  physical  well-being.

Health Care

  • Alleviate pressures on the health system by implementing measures to contain and mitigate the spread  of  the  disease,  including  public  health  services  to  prevent  infection  and  contagion,  and  stepping up public information campaigns for practicing personal hygiene and social distancing.
  • Provide additional funding  for  health  care  to  help  rapid  deployment  of  resources  and  higher  capacity. 
  • Ensure  adequate  spaces  to  diagnose  people  safely  and  efficiently.
  • Mobilise inactive health professionals.
  • Recognise and reward overtime work in health care and emergency response sectors.
  • Boost the provision of required supplies and equipment to diagnose and treat patients safely; work with partners along the supply chain/transport routes to ensure that provision of essential supplies is not restricted by containment measures (e.g. border closures) and trade restrictions.
  • The  “hard  to  reach”  deserve  special  attention  –  make  health  care  and  testing  services  both  affordable  and  accessible  to  vulnerable  groups,  and  public  health  information  clear  and  easy  to  comprehend.


  • Implement  measures  to  ensure  that  individuals  and  families  can  remain  in  home  dwellings,  throughout  the  crisis  and  into  the  recovery  period.  Options  include  temporary  deferment  of  mortgage repayments and utility bills, and suspension of foreclosures and evictions.
  • Increase bed capacity in homeless accommodation and reduce overcrowding.  Options  include  acquisition   of   hotel   rooms   and   conversion   of   publically   owned   buildings.


  • Support affected students through effective remote learning opportunities. Public institutions and the  private  sector  can  be  called  upon  to  donate  the  equipment  needed  for  remote  learning.
  • Provide  remote  training  facilities  for  teachers,  as  well  as  students  and  their  parents,  to  navigate  any technical difficulties (e.g. provide directions for prioritisation in case of overload of servers and internet capacity) in the transition to remote learning.
  • Depending  on  the  success  of  remote  learning,  consider  extending  classes  beyond  the  regular  school year/after the lifting of the school and university closures to minimise impacts on students’ future  education  performance  and  job  prospects,  especially  for  those graduating from  middle  school, high school or university.
  • Pay particular attention to supporting vulnerable children (and their families), who are less likely to have a suitable learning environment, parental support and technical facilities for remote learning, as  these  are  also  children  more  vulnerable  to  dropping  out  of  school  and  experiencing a  more  severe  drop  in  academic  achievement  after  prolonged  school  breaks. 
  • Consider  inclusion  of  the most  vulnerable  children  in  emergency  childcare  provisions  for  children  of  essential  workers  in  countries where such arrangements exist.
  • Provide support to children who rely on schools for meals and contacts with supportive adults e.g. food vouchers, food parcels, and regular check-ins by teachers.

Supporting small businesses

  • Implement  short-term  support  measures  for  SMEs  and  severely  affected  sectors  (e.g.  tourism)  including temporarily reducing or eliminating property/business taxes.
  • Provide liquidity support through creation of temporary loan-repayment amnesties or provision of grants to bridge liquidity gaps.
  • Help  firms  adjust  working  time  to  remain  operational  and  preserve  jobs. 
  • Encourage  teleworking  and other types of remote work, where possible.
  • Encourage training and upskilling.
  • Work  with  technology  companies  to  provide  SMEs  and  the  self-employed  with  free  and  rapid  access  to  communication  and  sharing  tools.

Role of civil and social sectors

COVID-19 has a strong impact at the community-level making local response very important.

Therefore countries should engage effectively with Community organisations and NGOs to access community knowledge, make better decisions, build trust and lessen discrimination.

Countries should support community responses and actions with funding and infrastructure so that local organisations and groups can deliver and inform local and national government decisions.

For example, support to vulnerable children, such as food banks, learning materials, and psychological support, would likely be better delivered by civil society than the speed at which a government can do it.

Through the OECD’s close co-ordination with a wide range of civil society actors and continuous monitoring of external developments in the third sector, our understanding of their desired roles in the COVID-19 crisis is:

  • Working directly with governments as part of their crisis response to best co-ordinate their staff and volunteers, use their social media and other communications networks to provide quality and up-to-date information and offer any specific local/regional knowledge they may have:
    • Ensuring the personal/physical safety of workers, especially those on the “frontline” e.g. healthcare, retail etc., through provision of sufficient and adequate PPE
    • Ensuring the personal/physical safety of citizens, through communicating sound health advice and combatting misinformation, protecting already marginalised and at-risk groups, and recognising that issues such as domestic violence against women are exacerbated during pandemics
    • Making sure there are adequate financial provisions for workers, families and businesses whose jobs, employment or incomes are affected
    • Conveying citizens’ concerns to represent their immediate needs and champion their vision of the recovery phase, especially the most vulnerable, those at risk and groups that may not have their own voice
  • Continuing their watchdog role
    • Monitoring CV19-specific resources, and the contracts/agreements that may go with them, are scrutinised for corruption/bribery/competition concerns and that information is transparent and easily accessible
    • Protecting privacy making sure data safe and used only as necessary, specifically regarding existing or proposed digital track and tracing initiatives
  • Being actively included and consulted in recovery planning across all areas of society
    • Re-evaluating how healthcare is paid for and accessed, as well as social security systems and safety nets more broadly
    • Re-assessing how governments and businesses invest and the effects on the ongoing climate crisis and biodiversity, and how a Green New Deal could be realised
    • Re-imagining trade and global value chains to be more resilient but also fair and just

Rural impacts

Over the short run, the possible temporary relocation of urban dwellers to rural areas will likely produce positive consumption effects, despite the overall decline in demand with confinement measures.

There will be a temporary increase in consumption of durables and immediate consumption goods due to crisis purchasing behaviours, and a drop in demand for luxury goods both in urban and rural areas.

Rural areas specialised in agriculture production may benefit as well as local firms and the rural service sector.

Despite these positive effects, rural regions are particularly vulnerable to the emerging shock effects due to the following factors:

  • Large share of population with high risk factors notably elderly, poor, health issues, etc.
  • A less diversified economy.
  • A high share of workers in essential jobs (agriculture, food processing etc.) coupled with a more limited likelihood to work from home — making social distancing harder to implement.
  • Lower incomes and lower savings forcing people to continue to work when ill.
  • Health care system not suitable for dealing with covid-19 lacking, ICUs and doctors with specialised skills.
  • Digital divide in the form of weak internet and fewer people with adequate computer and phone technologies.
  • Larger distance to access hospitals, testing etc.
  • Confinement measures and the need to take care of children limit the mobility of local and foreign workers.
  • Although primary sector, especially agriculture, has typically been classed as essential activity, and therefore maintained during the crisis, high labour intensive sectors that are critical for rural economies are experiencing labour shortages including from seasonal and temporary workers.

Governments can prepare to leverage opportunities presented by the crisis to accelerate adaptation and integration of rural communities

  • Speed up investments in digital infrastructure and supporting eco-system to increase the uptake of digital tools in rural areas. 
  • Encourage the uptake of remote services by better adapting national rules to the specificities of rural communities, training of teachers and health care professionals to adopt remote forms of service delivery. 
  • Provide financial and technical assistance to support community-based and social innovation projects that aim at protecting the most vulnerable citizens in rural areas, including the elderly and migrants.
  • Include sustainability criteria in Covid-19 recovery actions so that they also contribute to long-term resilience by addressing climate change and ecological transition.
  • Support the resilience of rural communities by enhancing social solidarity networks that meet the basic living standards of the vulnerable citizens in the rural areas.

Regional impacts

  • Impacts have a strong regional dimension as well.
  • Many middle- and lower-income countries have tried to adopt a similar range of measures to those adopted by OECD members – nation-wide or partial lockdowns, fiscal stimulus, travel restrictions, quarantine arrangements.
  • Some even responded earlier and more strongly than the advanced economies.
  • The menu of policy options is thus broadly similar, but in many/most cases, limited fiscal space, weaker state administrative capacities and less developed infrastructure (especially digital infrastructure) and healthcare systems constitute important constraints on their ability to respond.
  • In addition, there are specific challenges to administering lockdowns and public health measures, as well as measures to provide social protection and maintain incomes, in places where a large part of the population operate outside the formal sector.
  • The crisis also shows us how many truly essential tasks are performed in many countries by informal workers (waste disposal, cleaning, deliveries).
  • The challenges for urban informality are particularly acute.
  • These tensions are of first-order interest to all of us, because a failure to contain the virus in large swathes of the developing world would constitute a threat to (or at least impose high costs on) all.
  • Costs are likely to increase as the failures of healthcare systems make lock-down measures all the more important to contain the spread of the epidemics, notwithstanding the difficulty to enforce them.
  • This confronts governments with difficult dilemmas, as the tension between the risk of high death tolls and a devastating impact on the economy is stronger than in advanced economies, potentially leading to more social and political unrest.
  • Furthermore, in certain contexts, because of their limited capacity to lead and obtain an adequate response from the population, some governments can be tempted to take more authoritarian measures.
    • In many cases, elections and democratic processes had to be postponed, creating uncertainty; in some cases, emergency support cash transfers are used with political intentions.
    • In some countries, the reactions of national governments and sub-national governments have not been fully aligned and there have been riots in excessively crowded prisons as inmates become infected.
    • All these are additional factors to take into consideration in countries where institutions are weaker and trust in governments is low.
    • At the same time, good communication strategies and good crisis management are enhancing government support in some countries.
  • On the economic front, we see the evergreen dilemma of state support vs private sector development in the economic response. While state controlled systems have the ability to direct necessary resources into the crisis management, and thereby address pressing social issues related to the loss of jobs, these measures can sometimes favour SOEs and be channeled via SOEs, whereas the most vulnerable privately owned SMEs, startups etc. remain without support.
    • Help can be usually provided to SOEs through commercial banks or lower level government entities and the process also be burdened by heavy bureaucracy.
  • In developing and emerging economies, the likely impact on women is even higher given their large presence in the informal sector and in the health care system.
  • Likewise, the very significant amount of unpaid work in relation with care of the elderly and children is particularly important. This shows more dramatically the imbalance in the access to decision-making positions.