IDB World: Government Responses to the Pandemic, Elders and Female Security
Institutional strengthening and data, keys to the government's responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
As the pandemic continues around the world and countries begin their vaccination and economic reactivation phases, it is key to understand the performance of the public sector in managing the COVID-19 crisis. Most of the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have implemented a large number of policies aimed at combating the pandemic and have communicated them to the public opinion. However, the uneven impact of the virus shows the need to strengthen institutional capacity to maximize the impact of government measures.
A problem in evaluating government responses is the reliability of the data on the incidence of COVID-19. Although different efforts have been made to examine the performance of governments in managing the pandemic, including rankings of countries such as the global COVID-19 index, Foreign Policy index, and the Bloomberg index, these analyzes are limited by the unreliable nature of the data on confirmed cases and deaths from the pandemic.
This problem with the data manifests itself in the divergences between developed and developing countries. Although all have been affected by the virus, developed countries continue to experience much higher numbers of cases and deaths. This is evident when it is found that developing countries represent 85% of the world's population, but only 21% of the deaths confirmed by COVID-19.
What is the reason for this discrepancy? Although demographic, temporal and environmental factors may explain a higher concentration of cases and deaths in industrialized countries, there are reasons to suspect that the situation in the developing world is worse than available statistics indicate.
How France supports older people and fosters female employment
Like many countries in Europe and Latin America, France faces multiples issues at the same time: an aging population, one of the highest fertility rates in Europe and an increase in female employment. As a result, for years it has sought to encourage the reconciliation of the private and professional life of women, promote the care of children and help the most vulnerable, while encouraging the permanence of the elderly at home. What policies did this country implement to face these situations simultaneously?
The public policies implemented by France have been important to guarantee the provision of care and support to people with disabilities and the elderly in situations of functional dependence, as well as the rights and well-being of caregivers, mostly women, in the home.
Starting in the 90s, the country opted for the development of home employment. This commitment had several objectives:
• The development of personal services between individuals.
• The formalization of jobs that are often informal.
• The social protection of workers.
Go out at night and be a victim? The dilemma of Latin American women.
Isabela is 20 years old, lives on the outskirts of Caracas and studies and works to support herself. Before COVID-19, she was on her way to the bus stop at 4 a.m. to get to her first college class on time. Lacking access to a private means of transport, the journey is perceived as dangerous, the street usually has no lighting and is in the dark, there are very few users, mainly men and hardly any women, and there is no type of security surveillance (public or private).
For women, the public space at night is associated with the constant danger of suffering sexual assault, harassment or any other type of crime. On the one hand, the stories of third parties and our own experiences reinforce this behavior and help us to generate mental maps that divide the areas where we can and cannot be according to a spatial and temporal dimension. On the other hand, being on the street at night is generally considered “inappropriate” for women and “unsafe.” Public perception against victims also helps reinforce these patterns.
Traveling in a space without lighting with a low influx of people (or mostly men), as Isabela does, is often not an option. The fear of ending a victim seems to be the most effective mechanism to restrict women's decisions in terms of mobility.
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