Building Back Better, Gender Equality, and Feminist Dilemmas

Volume 52 Number 1
Published: March 25, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected men and women differently, exacerbating existing gender inequalities across a range of areas including health, education, and livelihoods. Globally, the levels of gender-based violence have increased. Consensus exists in policy circles that emergency response and recovery plans should consider both the immediate and longer-term gender impact of Covid-19, and without effective measures, the progress made to date on gender equality will not be sustainable. But has this crisis led to a moment when gender power hierarchies in our economies, politics, and society can be renegotiated? In this article, we explore: what does building back better look like if gender equality was at its core? What kinds of feminist dilemmas arise with respect to how we frame women’s voice and agency as we advocate for transformative systemic change? We start with a vision for building back better with a gender lens; and move on to discuss the gender-specific impacts of Covid-19 that exacerbate the vulnerabilities of women and girls. In connection with the latter, we discuss the feminist dilemmas that arise with respect to discourse on women’s agency, representation, participation, and the key issues that we need to consider for transforming systemic gender power hierarchies.

From Issue: Vol. 52 No. 1 (2021) | Building a Better World: The Crisis and Opportunity of Covid-19