Medics help each other sign names on their protective clothes for recognition. (Photo: Liu Yu)
Editor's note: Smriti Aryal is the Head of UN Women China Office.
In China’s response to COVID-19, we have seen the essential contribution of women at all levels, including as frontline responders, health professionals, community volunteers, transport and logistics managers, scientists, doctors, vaccine developers and more. I wish to extend my deepest respect and admiration to all the Chinese women from different walks of lives, who have played an irreplaceable role in China’s response to COVID-19 outbreak.
China’s response to COVID-19 is impressive and unprecedented which the other countries now facing the outbreak can benefit from. One of the valuable lessons is about using a whole-of-society approach that China used to contain the epidemic, utilizing very effectively the capabilities of women, men and everyone equally. When women are empowered, mobilized and given the opportunity, they can play an irreplaceable role in the response to COVID-19 outbreak on all fronts: a lesson from China that the world should learn and adapt from.
As the country moves forward to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, we must also consider and respond to the differential needs of women, men and children in the short and medium-term recovery actions. This includes recognizing that women will likely suffer the biggest socio-economic impact as a large number of women are employed in sectors hardest hit, work as small business owners and daily wage earners. We must also recognize and address the disproportionate and unequal role in care burden that women carry, including taking care of the children staying home, family members with illness and the elderly.
UN Women stands in solidarity and ready to support the government of China and work with its national partners including the All China Women’s Federation in recovery and building back a stronger and more resilient Chinese society and help affected communities recover from the socio-economic impact.
As UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka stated in her letter to Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations on January 31, 2020, “ UN Women stands ready to support Chinese Government in any way you may deem relevant, particularly in regard to the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, especially the most vulnerable.” We will continue to work alongside the UN partners for a coordinated support to bring recovery program that builds women’s economic resilience for this and future shocks so that they have the resources they need for themselves and their families and prepare for future crises by extracting lessons and good practices from China’s response and recovery action that the world can learn from.
Marking the 25th anniversary of Beijing Platform for Action, 2020, a pivotal year for advancing gender equality, I urge our supporters, partners and advocates to continue bringing women’s contribution, voices and leadership at the forefront of recovery and take collective actions to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in China.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of the People' Daily.