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Women have borne the economic brunt of the pandemic

It's no secret that women around the world have shouldered much of the burden brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to unpaid labor. As London School of Economics director Minouche Shafik points out in this week's episode of GZERO World, on average in the world women do two hours more unpaid work per day than men. And whether we're talking Norway or Pakistan, women have been doing more than their fair share for a long time before COVID hit. So how do women come back from what Shafik calls "the biggest change in the social contract in decades?" That's a major focus of this week's show.

Watch the episode: Is modern society broken?

Is modern society broken?

What does President Biden's "build back better" slogan really mean? If you asked him, he'd likely say that life after the pandemic shouldn't just be as good as it was before COVID hit…it should be better. Who would disagree with that? But beyond the sloganeering, the need to create a much improved "new normal" has never been greater. With global inequality on and extreme poverty on the rise, how do we patch up the many holes in the world's social safety nets? Renowned economist and London School of Economics director Minouche Shafik has some ideas, which she shared with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

The "global obsession" with controlling women’s bodies

When asked what most surprised her when she became the UN's top global advocate for gender equality, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka didn't hesitate. "The obsession about controlling women's bodies is really something that also shocked me when I got to the UN." The constant objections she fielded around women's rights and reproductive rights, regardless of where in the world they were coming from, was not something Mlambo-Ngcuka was prepared for. And that's especially true, she says, for the United States.

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The fight for gender equality

A look at the impact the pandemic has had on women's equal rights globally. How much progress in gender equality has been eroded in the wake of job losses and a rise in gender-based violence and economic inequality? And how can that trend be reversed as societies rebuild?

Watch the GZERO World with Ian Bremmer episode: Why the pandemic has been worse for women: UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

How education has improved women’s lives around the world


What has been the driving force for improving women's lives around the world in the last decade? It's education, says UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. "The macroeconomic policies of most countries are not gender-responsive," says Mlambo-Ngcuka, but "women have been increasingly graduating at the top of their classes, and in many countries doing better than boys." She joined Ian Bremmer to discuss how the global fight for gender equality has progressed over the past decade and how the pandemic has turned back the clock on so much of that fight.

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Why the pandemic has been worse for women: UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

The global fight for gender equality wasn't a resounding success before the pandemic hit, but progress was being made. In many corners of the world, however, COVID-19 turned back that clock significantly. Violence against women—especially in the home—has been skyrocketing over the past year, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women and the UN's top advocate for gender equality. And the toll on girls has been just as severe, says Mlambo-Ngcuka, with the UN estimating that as many as 11 million girls who left school during the pandemic will never return. At the same time, it has been women who have shepherded the world through the worst pandemic, as they occupy the majority of frontline healthcare jobs. Mlambo-Ngcuka joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Podcast: Why the pandemic has been worse for women: insights from UN Women's Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Listen: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director for UN Women, joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to discuss the toll COVID-19 has taken on the global fight for gender equality, especially on girls. In fact, the UN estimates that as many as 11 million girls who left school because of the pandemic will never return. At the same time, it is women who occupy the majority of frontline and healthcare jobs.

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