Are Governments investing in caring and just economies?
A gender and human rights assessment of COVID-19 fiscal stimulus measures in Asia and the Pacific
In 2020-2021, the COVID-19 crisis had catastrophic impacts on Asia and the Pacific, affecting economies and societies. It reversed much of the progress made towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), worsening gender equalities in health, education and labour, and increasing pressures on weak healthcare systems and fragmented social protection systems.
This report is based on an assessment of COVID-19 fiscal stimulus response and policy measures in nine countries in Asia and the Pacific (Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam). Between March 2020 and August 2021, the nine countries deployed a range of fiscal stimulus measures to respond to the impacts of the virus and various containment measures leading to the sudden suspension of economic and livelihood activities. Social protection and employment responses appeared to be the main fiscal policy priorities. While they largely overlapped with other measures aligned with achieving different outcomes, especially protecting informal workers and improving access to health care, the bulk of fiscal response measures were near term, ending in 2020. The pandemic highlighted that issues affecting women and at-risk groups have fallen outside the purview of fiscal decision making, including access to decent work, support for care work and protection from violence. This report examines whether governments have demonstrated commitment to meeting gender equality and human rights commitments. The report concludes with high-level policy recommendations.
The report was developed through a collaboration between the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for South East Asia and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific who are members of the Asia-Pacific Issue-Based Coalition on Promoting Human Rights and Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.