Gender inequality has increased, says US ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues nominee

WASHINGTON: The Covid-19 pandemic, climate crisis, and rise of authoritarianism, along with conflicts in various parts of the world, have resulted in an increase in gender inequality, according to Indian-American Geeta Rao Gupta, who is President Joe Biden’s nominee for the position of the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues.
During her confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Gupta, an expert on gender and women’s issues, said she was proud to be a US citizen and a first-generation immigrant who belongs to a family of professional women, each of whom dedicated their lives to serving their communities – and from a family of men who supported them fully.
“If you look at the world today, the situation of women, if you look at the gender inequality indicators, they show that the inequality has increased,” she said.
“We have regressed on gender equality because of the threats that we’ve had at the moment, which is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has kept women from the labor force, the climate crisis, the rise of authoritarianism, conflicts around the world,” she said in response to a question from Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
According to Gupta, there are many inequities and indignities that women suffer around the world which hold them back from participating fully in the economy.
“They are subject to threats to their safety and have a fear of violence even on a daily basis, and that determines their mobility. In situations of conflict and emergencies and humanitarian crises, they are particularly vulnerable, both in terms of their safety and also in terms of their being able to look after their families and feed their families,” she said.
“The priorities of the Office of Global Women’s Issues currently are the right ones given the reality of the world today because it focuses on advancing women’s economic security and opportunity, it focuses on advancing the women’s peace and security agenda and preventing and responding to gender-based violence,” she said.
Observing that women play essential roles at the household and community levels, she told lawmakers that they are the front-line caretakers and mothers of children.
They are the providers and processors and producers of food, and they are income earners, and they are leaders within their communities, she said.
“Yet, they face disadvantages in being able to access productive resources such as employment, education, income, land, etc. That puts them at a disadvantage to fully play their roles,” she said.
“So, by disadvantaging them in that way, you are holding them back, but you’re also holding back their families, their households, their communities, and the economies of entire nations,” she said.
“So, in fact, a McKinsey report recently identified that in 2015, the cost to the global GDP is about $28 trillion over a 10-year period if those inequality indicators were not improved, if the gap was not closed. So, it has economic consequences, as well as it’s a rights issue,” Gupta said.
“From the women entrepreneurs in Kenya and India who sustain small businesses despite limited access to financial services, to the brave women in Liberia who mobilized against great odds to demand peace for their families and communities, I have seen women use the limited resources they have to provide for their families and protect others,” she said.
She told lawmakers that she did her doctoral research in India on understanding the barriers that women face in pursuing a career, which ultimately, propelled her toward a career focused on rectifying the inequities experienced by women.
“That became both my passion and my profession,” Gupta said.
Mumbai-born Gupta was awarded a Ph.D. in Psychology from Bangalore University and a Master of Philosophy and Master of Arts from the University of Delhi in India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.