After decades of impressive growth, for the first time, Southeast Asia is experiencing a drop in measured human development. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will likely take months to reveal itself and years to put right. Yet, a legacy of mobilizing under constraints is leading Southeast Asia’s pandemic response.
Africa’s demographic boom has been hailed as its biggest promise for transforming the continent’s economic and social outcomes, but only if the right investments are made to prepare its youthful population for tomorrow’s world.
Covid-19 threatens economic life the world over. The most urgent and important need is for governments, businesses and families to survive. Governments must revive economies and livelihoods to prevent Covid-19 recessions from becoming protracted depressions.
The Covid-19 crisis is clearly a ‘black swan event’, threatening both public health and livelihoods. Both the pandemic and containment efforts are not due to business operations and decisions, but nonetheless have compelling consequences for them.
Dr David Nabarro is Special Envoy to the World Health Organisation on COVID-19 and Strategic Director of 4SD. He sets out his challenge to leaders to use COVID-19 as an opportunity for radical change that responds to the needs and the interests of all of humanity.
• Countries must work together
• Focus on equity
• Effective local action
“The vision and promise of the United Nations is that food, healthcare, water and sanitation, education, decent work and social security are not commodities for sale to those who can afford them, but basic human rights to which we are all entitled.” Those were the poignant words of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in a hard hitting speech on 18 July 2020 to mark Mandela Day
They were promised the world but ended up in a Lebanese household. This is the story of many domestic workers in Lebanon. With a 70-year-old sponsor system still in place, domestic workers are tied to their employers with little or no basic rights. The ‘Kafala’ system is the major problem behind what we have been seeing in Beirut in the last months.
During the pandemic, forced return of migrants has become a major issue of concern for intergovernmental bodies and the global civil society engaged in migration issues. The United Nations Network on Migration (UNNM) has urged states "to suspend forced returns during the pandemic, in order to protect the health of migrants and communities, and uphold the human rights of all migrants, regardless of status". UNNM has called for a halt to arbitrary expulsions and reiterated that their "protection needs must be individually assessed; and that the rule of law and due process must be observed". It reminded the states that these obligations under international law "can never be put on hold and are vital to any successful approach to combatting Covid-19 for the benefit of all".
The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating labor markets across the world. Tens of millions of workers lost their jobs, millions more out of the labor force altogether, and many occupations face an uncertain future. Social distancing measures threaten jobs requiring physical presence at the workplace or face-to-face interactions. Those unable to work remotely, unless deemed essential, face a significantly higher risk of reductions in hours or pay, temporary furloughs, or permanent layoffs. What types of jobs and workers are most at risk? Not surprisingly, the costs have fallen most heavily on those who are least able to bear them: the poor and the young in the lowest-paid jobs.
The 1971 Bretton Woods (BW) system collapse opened the way for financial globalization and transnational financialization. Before the 1980s, most economies had similar shares of trade and financial openness, but cross-border financial transactions have been increasingly unrelated to trade since then.
The issue of women’s rights, feminism and gender is complex and ongoing in most countries including Bangladesh. When I was asked to write about impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, I found myself drawn towards writing about women’s situation in general as that automatically impacts COVID-19 response as well. Since I am a woman who has been a part of many different cultures, yet a Bangali at heart, I am not only a survivor within its ranks but also responsible for being a part of the solution to the problems we face.
In his early February annual State of the Union address
, US President Donald Trump typically hailed his own policies for increasing wages and jobs to achieve record low US unemployment. Directly appealing to labour for a second term, Trump claimed exclusive credit for the US “blue-collar boom”.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 set off a series of health and economic crises that feed upon each other. The health crisis exacerbates the economic crisis by disrupting supply chains, throwing large number of people (particularly those working in the informal sector) out of work and closing down large numbers of enterprises – particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).
Warnings at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic that Africa could be hit by a wave of up to 10 million cases within six months thankfully now seem unfounded, although it is still far too early to be over-confident.
Nazia has a herd of 5 cows. She has two daughters in secondary education, a seat on the Village Council, a savings account and a permanent home. Nazia has dignity, security and prospects beyond poverty. This is Nazia’s story because alongside her commitment and conviction to create a better life, she benefited directly from the UK government, and its global leadership in the drive to end extreme poverty.
The practical challenge of quickly getting financial support in the hands of people who lost jobs amid the COVID-19 economic crisis has baffled advanced and developing economies alike. Economic lockdowns, physical distancing measures, patchy social protection systems and, especially for low-income countries, the high level of informality, complicate the task. Many governments are leveraging mobile technology to help their citizens.
The world before COVID-19 looks very attractive right now. In light of the disease, mass unemployment and social distancing, a return to pre-pandemic normality seems appealing. Yet we should remember what normal was.
How often have you heard someone lamenting or even condemning inequality in society, concluding with an appeal to meritocracy? We like to think that if only the deserving, the smart ones, those we deem competent or capable, often meaning the ones who are more like us, were in charge, things would be better, or just fine.
The impact of COVID-19 lockdowns falls heavily on the shoulders of women even in the global north. Women take the brunt of housework and caretaking duties, homes schooling, working from home and perhaps looking after elderly parents, says Cherie Blair.
Prior to the onset of the coronavirus crisis South Asian women participated only sparingly in the labor market. Even though South Asia was and still has the potential to become one of the fastest growing regions in the world (post COVID19) female labor force participation rates were low at 23.6% compared to 80% for men (World Bank figures).
Even before Covid-19, the world was facing a care crisis. The plight of often neglected, under-appreciated, under-protected and poorly equipped ‘frontline’ health personnel working to contain the pandemic has drawn attention to the tip of the care crisis iceberg.
After a period of forced silence because of the Covid-19 quarantines, citizens around the world are defying coronavirus restrictions and claiming the streets
to fight for real democracy, jobs, living wages, public services, human rights and against corruption, inequality and injustice. We predict an increasing wave of protests all over the world led by different types of people defying the status quo. Unless policies change, clashes in the street are likely to become the new normal.