The Covid-19 pandemic set women’s employment back by two years in Bermuda, a spokeswoman for UN Women said today.
Tonni Brodber, from the UN Women’s Multi-Country Office, added that the pandemic demonstrated how “hazards exploit already-existing inequality”.
She insisted that the Building Back Equal programme, funded by the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund and which Bermuda has joined, would help to combat these downturns.
At a press conference today on the programme, Ms Brodber explained: “The pandemic halted the improvement of women’s employment – it has set us back by two years in Bermuda and it has set us back globally by more.
“We at UN Women believe that we cannot secure a better future for Bermuda, the other countries in the Caribbean and the world if we do not consider the ripple effect of inequality and hazards, whether they be global health crises, economic collapses, climate change and gender inequality.”
Ms Brodber, was speaking as Bermuda joined the Building Back Equal through Innovative Financing for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment programme.
She was joined by several delegates and Government ministers, as well as Rena Lalgie, the Governor, at the Grotto Bay Hotel in Hamilton Parish.
Attendees at the meeting heard that 3,250 women were underemployed in 2020 compared to 1,727 before the pandemic.
Youth unemployment rates also grew from 18.8 per cent in 2019 to 32.1 per cent in 2020.
Bermuda’s GDP shrank by nine per cent in 2020, while unemployment as a whole rose to 7.9 per cent that same year.
Ms Brodber said that different people were affected by societal problems in different ways, even if these problems were universal.
She explained that women have historically been affected the most by problems linked to climate change, while men have been more directly affected by disasters than women.
Ms Brodber said that breaking down these problems would require looking at who they affected most, as well as commitment from businesses and governments.
She added: “That is the very purpose of this SDG Fund initiative – to create tangible opportunities to empower those who do not often directly engage with all aspects of the economy – women, youth and people with disabilities.”
Building Back Equal will be funded by the UN’s Joint Social Development Goals Fund, which aims to strengthen island nations and developing states.
The Joint SDG Fund will help build nations’ economies, further socio-economic goals and protect island nations against threats caused by climate change.
It is the first part of the UN’s Multi-Country Sustainable Development Co-operation Framework designed for the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.
The four-year plan will help nations recover from the economic strain of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as problems caused by climate change and global conflicts.
Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, announced Bermuda’s involvement with the agreement on Friday.
She said today that recipients will mostly be women, young people, entrepreneurs and those with disabilities.
Ms Furbert added that these groups were "significantly impacted“ by the economic downturn of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said: “Bermuda is very blessed — blessed to have this opportunity and blessed that the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors can take the lead in working with UN Women as well as the United Nations in what I believe is very important to our economic recovery plan.
“Today is monumental as we make history with this agreement and launch it with my deepest gratitude that the Ministry of Social Development and Seniors is the lead ministry for implementation.”
This article is originally published in The Royal Gazette