UNITED NATIONS: The big problem with COVID-19 is ... the patriarchy

In remarks delivered to young women from civil society organizations, Secretary-General António Guterres argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to another "deadly" contagion—the patriarchy.
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

In remarks delivered to young women from civil society organizations, Secretary-General António Guterres argued that the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to another "deadly" contagion—the patriarchy.

In his town hall, which was an event that had been delayed from the annual Commission on the Status of Women which would normally have been in the spring, Guterres claimed that the pandemic exemplifies the problems of the patriarchy.

He noted that women are often "front line" workers, meaning that they are nurses and caregivers, and often serve in menial roles. Additionally, with everyone around the world forced into pandemic-inspired lockdown, women and girls are stuck home with those most likely to abuse them—husbands and fathers.

Guterres fails to acknowledge that while women may be more likely to be front line workers, men are more likely to actually die from the virus. According to Harvard university, some American states have male death rates twice that of their female counterparts.

Guterres believes that the UN should take a three-pronged approach to make a change in this systemic problem. He called for a prioritization of universal health care for all the people of the world as the first phase, a "health response."

The second phase is "mitigating the social and economic impact of the crisis." By this he means getting money to women through both "formal and informal economies." These would include "cash transfers, credits and loans" that would be prioritized to be given to women to offset the costs of their job losses and their increased role as caregivers.

The final phase of this three-point plan is to build "a better future." Guterres said that: "The pandemic is only demonstrating what we all know: that millennia of patriarchy have resulted in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture which damages everyone – women, men, girls and boys."

Guterres addressed what he sees as the faulty power structure, saying that "It is indeed addressing this question of power that we must concentrate all our efforts."

As though he were taking talking point from the American left, which also doesn't have any real plan to achieve these goals, he said that "It is clear that we cannot go back to the failed policies that have resulted in the fragility we see around us – in healthcare systems, in social protection, in access to justice. This is the time to rebuild more equal, inclusive, and resilient societies."

And like the American left, he used all of this as a way to pivot to addressing climate change, saying "Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."

Guterres points out a true thing in this Town Hall, which is that civilization is indeed a fragile construction. That we are all able to live together, often in extended periods of harmony wherein we do not seek to destroy our neighbours and their way of life, is something of a miracle. But at no point is a well and reasonable civilization a given, or even the most likely scenario.

Yet Guterres, as part of his remarks, touted women as leaders as not only as effective as their male counterparts, but more so. There is no proof for this despite the ongoing bizarre missives that claim women would never fight wars and that in their taking the kind, compassionate route of governance, that would lead to more equality.

Elevating women above the status of equals under the law, making the claim that they are somehow better suited to leadership due to their innate, female characteristics, is only setting up women for failure. Women are not better than men, they are merely equal to them.

If women ruled the world, there would still be plague, famine, pestilence, stormy weather, and yes, there would even still be COVID-19. Lifting up women means allowing that women have, if not the same flaws as their masculine brethren, ones that are equally as bad.

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Libby Emmons
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