The pandemic has become a clear call for strong, compassionate female leadership that is essential not only to ensure girls and women are equal everywhere, but also to help fix the enormous global challenges facing us all.

Around the world, the pandemic has put a spotlight on the equity challenges and unmet needs facing women. Girls in marginalized communities have been among the first to abandon their educational pursuits. Women have left the labor market at record levels. The burden of unpaid work continues to multiply. Maternal mortality rates have yet to improve. Quality, uniform gender data remains missing across countries to properly account for women in policy decisions. And the ascent of women to leadership positions in government and business has been painstakingly slow.

“We’re at a pivot point where people can really see literally that inequality that, in some cases, has really remained invisible is really visible,” said Jennifer Klein, co-chair of White House Gender Policy Council, at our recent event, Equal Everywhere: Champions for Change.

“This is a clear agenda for action for this year and beyond,” said Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “What can we learn from women’s leadership during this crisis right now that we can translate into larger lessons about leadership writ large?”

Speakers agreed that to build back better and create a fairer, more equal, and inclusive world, women will need to be at the forefront of economic recovery strategies or else risk widening — or worse, eroding — fragile progress.

“Women listen better. Women multitask better. What better time to use those skills than right now solving a global pandemic?” said Gina Clark, executive vice president and chief communications and administration officer for AmerisourceBergen.

The disproportionate cross-sector impact of COVID-19 on girls and women is a reminder that “women have a range of issues that they are facing especially in the wake of the pandemic,” said Loyce Pace, the director of global affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the former executive director of the Global Health Council. “In our advocacy, we should really be putting that front and center, the fact that it’s not just a health problem.”

Read the full article about women at the front and center by Sueann Tannis at United Nations Foundation.