‘Build back better’ will be a betrayal if it does not empower women

Annie Lennox

By Annie Lennox

As world leaders convene for the G7 summit, to “help the world fight, and then build back better from coronavirus”, I would like them to consider this… Among the wreckage of lives and livelihoods that we are yet to fully quantify, a newly established fact has emerged that should make our blood run cold. In the wake of this dreadful pandemic, key rights of women and girls around the world have been rolled back by an entire generation. 

Let this sink in: if you are a woman younger than 36 years old, then crucial progress achieved towards gender equality for you has been rolled back to a time before you were born. 

Every time a humanitarian or economic disaster hits, women bear the heaviest burden. The Covid-19 crisis has seen this ugly truth played out on a worldwide scale, in rich and poor countries alike, with the most discriminated-against groups enduring the harshest impacts. COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on the lives of women and girls beyond its obvious impact as a health emergency. In poorer countries, girls have been disproportionately pulled out of school, many of whom will never return. Around the world, it has doubled women’s domestic workload, impacting their careers, or stopping their employment altogether. And perhaps most heinous of all, it has exacerbated the everlasting scourge of violence against women, particularly in their own homes.

Yet – as ever – women are on the frontlines in tackling this crisis, just as they are in every crisis. Despite the multiple threats facing them, women have been at the forefront of the response to Covid-19. 

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Annie Lennox: To end violence against women we need global cooperation from our world leaders

Assault and violence is a living reality for millions of women in every corner of the globe

Consider the fact – recently revealed by the World Health Organisation – that one in three women face physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

Keep repeating this fact until it settles into your mind. Take a moment to reflect on what this means. It is beyond the realm of our worst nightmares, but it is a living reality for millions of women in every corner of the globe.

Assault, violence, and violation is taking place in a country, a city, a town, a village, a public space, a school, a college, an office, a street, a house, an apartment, or a room near to where you are right now.

If we are to truly end violence against women, then we need a truly global approach. Although I am encouraged to see the recent outcry, new conversations, protest and debate following Sarah Everard’s death, it pains me that it takes a particularly horrific act to trigger a public outrage.

The culture of violence and rape against women has been ‘normalised’ for decades in many countries around the world as these statistics show.

 

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