Amplifying the Voices of Young Women for an Equal Future

An unequal burden of the pandemic falls on the shoulders of women and girls. Government imposed lockdown and school closures due to COVID-19 have increased the demand for unpaid caregiving, childcare, and domestic work— all which women are more likely than men to bear the responsibility. However, despite the challenges of the pandemic, women are demonstrating resilience.

As we begin to lay the groundwork for recovery, we need to reflect and think deeply about how we can build back better and stronger to create a more inclusive and equitable post-COVID-19 future. And It starts by listening to young people, especially young women.  

We asked three young women from the Mastercard Foundation Alumni Network about the impact of COVID-19 and what it means to build back better for an equal future.  

On gender equity

Ange Sandrine Uwisanze, is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar graduate from the University of Edinburgh with a master’s degree in global health policy. 

Ange Sandrine Uwisanze, is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar graduate from the University of Edinburgh with a master’s degree in global health policy.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit women the [hardest]. Women experienced an increase in domestic violence and jobs occupied by women are more vulnerable to this pandemic than those occupied by men.  

To make the post-COVID-19 world better for women, [we need to implement] policies and programs that support the economic empowerment of women [and] improve access to mental health [resources]. Policymakers around the world need to make gender equity a priority to ensure that women recover from the effects of the pandemic. Greater collaboration between governments and private sectors [is needed] to develop gender-sensitive interventions that benefit women and society at large. 

– Ange Sandrine Uwisanze

On women in leadership

 Naa-Amy Wayne, inaugural fellow of the Youth Leaders Fellowship Program and Young African Leaders Initiative participant. 

Naa-Amy Wayne, is an inaugural fellow of the UNFPA  Youth Leaders Fellowship Program and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) participant.

“Even before COVID, progress towards gender-equality had been unbalanced. A gender-equal world would mean more women in governance & leadership.

Women under 30 are less than 1 percent of parliamentarians worldwide. Government must start with deliberately involving women to lead the COVID-19 recovery response efforts.  

I believe increased representation means a higher number of policies will favor us, women, who carry the disproportionate burden of unpaid care work and are more vulnerable to experience limited economic opportunities and livelihood loss, especially during this pandemic.   

Response programs must increase economic recovery focus on women. How? Private sector and Government should increase economic opportunities for women through low-interest loans, tax cuts, access to healthcare, and human capital development should be women-centered post pandemic. 

Increased and continued access to education by girls.  How?  We need to ensure that our girls return to the classroom and provide them with alternative means of learning. Governments like Sierra Leone provided portable radios for girls in rural communities to help them listen to study programs on radio.   

I believe parity is possible on many fronts, WE, need to level up leadership and [drive] change.”  

– Naa-Amy Wayne

On breaking barriers and building bridges 

Rosalinda Nyaama Agana, Mastercard Foundation Scholar alumna at Camfed. 

Rosalinda Nyaama Agana, is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar alumna at Camfed.

“When I look at the future, I see a world where women aren’t afraid to dream. I see women breaking barriers and taking up space. 

Tech is something most women don’t dare to go into! I [would] like policy makers, governments, and influencers to break barriers for women in tech and encourage young women and girls to pursue STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] careers.  

Women don’t owe anyone anything, but we owe it to ourselves, to be strong, bold, and unwavering. However, we cannot achieve gender equality without the solidarity and support of others.”

–  Rosalinda Nyaama Agana

Listening to Young People

All too often the perspectives and voices of young people are absent from important decision-making processes that inform policy. Young women have the first-hand experience of the specific challenges faced by their gender and can offer solutions to catalyze change. We need to listen to them and ensure their voices are heard, and their insights and perspectives are at the core of our response efforts to the pandemic.  

Related content: 

Young Woman Entrepreneur from Africa is Keeping Business Afloat During COVID-19 

Building Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Education Systems for African Youth

Supporting Women-Led MSMEs to Build Back Better Post-COVID-19 

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