Women, Pandemics and the Global South

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Economia Politica

Women, Pandemics and the Global South

Il Mulino/Springer - April 2022

Special Issue on “Women, Pandemics and the Global South”
Economia Politica. Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics
(Il Mulino/Springer)

Epidemics and pandemics have a devastating effect on all sections of society, as evidenced most recently with the COVID-19 crisis. The magnitude of this pandemic has few parallels in recent times. It has affected virtually every conceivable activity in our society, across all spheres and regions, and highlighted the precarious nature of socio-economic systems. Women are bearing a disproportionately larger brunt of the economic and social disruptions that accompany these public health disasters. This is especially so for women in poor households in the Global South who are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged stakeholders.

The Special Issue on Women, Pandemics and the Global Southoffers some unique vantagepoints to our understanding of COVID effects, which have not been covered by prior work and draw on plural methodologies, for example panel data, field data and surveys of various natures to help trace the immediate and short-term impacts of the lockdowns and post-lockdown economic recoveries as well as some long-term implications. There are twelve original articles that investigate a series of issues: gendered impact on labour market outcomes, food security, nutrition, agrarian life in the global south; resilience of women scientists; care work and feminist political economy; gender-sensitive policy responses; movement building responses, to name a few. They also cover a range of countries across three continents.

Alberto Quadrio CurzioEditor-in-Chief of EPOL and guest editor for the Special Issue strongly promoted the idea and gained the support of the other guest editors, listed below, who have all provided important contributions. He shares the journey that led to the Special Issue and concludes his Editorial stating: “My hope is that this Special Issue will contribute to motivating scholars to delve more into these critical issues. Our understanding of political economy would not just be incomplete, it would be remarkably poorer, without detailed knowledge of the damage caused by gender barriers everywhere and ways to overcome all forms of discrimination in order to promote true human development.

Amartya SenNobel laureate, in his brilliant Editorial provides insights from both his personal life experience and his views on science and gender. In his words: “Gender economics is a relatively new area of study, but its relevance is particularly strong when the lives of women are especially disrupted through the loss of household income, lack of medical facilities, the need for physical separation (as a part of prevention strategy for the epidemic), and particularly the deprivation of resources and opportunities for childcare. I must point to the special need for concentration on gender economics in the context of pandemics.

Bina Agarwal, development economist, presents an inspiring conceptual framework that traces the complexity of the potential effects of the pandemic. This includes not only the direct effects but also the indirect ones, and not only the immediate effects but also those likely to emerge in the long term. Her crucial role in these fields is clearly stated in the 2017 Balzan Prize for Gender Studies awarded her: “For challenging established premises in economics and the social sciences by using an innovative gender perspective; for enhancing the visibility and empowerment of rural women in the Global South; for opening new intellectual and political pathways in key areas of gender and development.

Jennifer Thomson, President of OWSD, co-authored an insightful essay assessing the results of a survey of network members on the impacts of the initial lockdowns on numerous aspects of their lives, a selection of which are highlighted in the article. The Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World is a UNESCO programme unit founded in 1987, dedicated to promoting the furthering education of women in STEM fields in the Global South and fostering their roles in technological and scientific leadership. 

Floriana Cerniglia and Ragupathy Venkatachalam, co-editors of EPOL participated in writing the Introduction, with B. Agarwal; they devoted considerable thought and energy to the selection of articles and discussions with the various authors in order to produce a landmark Special Issue. Without their efforts, the Special Issue would not have been possible.

The articles can be accessed online (at:https://link.springer.com/journal/40888/online-first) and will be published in the first issue of 2022.