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COVID-19 has created many challenges for women, threatening to widen preexisting gender gaps worldwide, especially in economic empowerment. Lockdowns and school closures have led to increased care-related tasks, disproportionately impacting women who often bear the bulk of caregiving responsibilities. It has also put women’s rights over assets at risk. In previous epidemics, widows and orphans often lost property due to laws or social norms that do not recognize their rights to land or inheritance, a problem many still face today.
The law can offer protections and access to opportunities for women. But data shows that, on average, women have just three-fourths of the legal rights afforded to men. For example, it is estimated that 40% of economies limit women’s ability to own and manage assets. Ownership over land serves as a foundation for security, shelter, income, and livelihoods. It is especially critical for women living in rural areas, many of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
In this session, panelists from the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on women, and explore the national and institutional approaches that have been taken to address its effects on women’s rights and economic empowerment, and the role of the law in these responses.