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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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How the pandemic has increased violence against women and worsened inequality

This week's horrific Atlanta shooting, which took the lives of six women of Asian descent, stirred outrage and fear across the US at a time when Asian and Asian American women are facing an onslaught of verbal and physical violence. But violence against women has been skyrocketing across the world since the start of the pandemic, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. Mlambo-Ngcuka joined Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how COVID-19 has turned back the clock on the global fight for gender equality and the toll that it has taken on girls, in particular.

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Women’s movements to watch right now

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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What We're Watching: "Illiberals" veto EU budget, Bangladesh's all-female cop unit, Armenian PM in trouble

EU budget in peril: The European Union now faces an unexpected budget crisis after Hungary and Poland vetoed the bloc's 1.8 trillion euro ($2.14 trillion) spending proposal that will help steer the bloc's pandemic recovery, and fund the Union through 2027. Budapest and Warsaw balked after the EU included a provision that made disbursement of funds contingent on respecting EU rule-of-law norms — including on issues like judicial independence and human rights — which both countries vehemently oppose. The twin veto came as a surprise for many in Brussels, which had recently compromised on this issue by agreeing to only cut funding if the rule-of-law threat directly affects how EU money is spent, and if a simple majority of member states approve. Those terms were seen as narrow enough for Budapest and Warsaw to accept, but the EU's two "illiberal" states are playing hardball. We're watching to see how long Hungary and Poland — which often flout EU democratic norms — are willing to hold the EU budget hostage, or if the bloc will cave to their demands in order to release 750 billion euros in coronavirus relief funds that other member states are desperate to get their hands on.

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Rape and impunity (not only) in Bangladesh

Last month in Bangladesh, a video showing the gang rape of a 37-year old woman went viral on Facebook. Eight men implicated in the crime were apprehended, but the incident — along with several other high profile cases of sexual violence — has provoked massive protests in the capital, Dhaka, and other parts of the country. There were calls for the Prime Minister to resign.

The protesters have a lot to be mad about. Back in January, mass protests over the rape of a university student in Dhaka brought thousands into the streets. The government promised to create, "within 30 days", a special commission to investigate rising reports of sexual violence in Bangladesh. More than nine months later, it still doesn't appear to exist.

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