“We want to build an economy that is measured by the wellbeing of single moms. The current economy, the old norm, is gender-blind, which really means based on men’s needs.”
Khara Jabola-Carolus ED, CSW
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic state departments received a COVID-19 response and economic recovery questionnaire regarding the expected $1.5 billion shortfall in revenue and reality of 40% unemployment. The Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that sits under the Department of Human services responded by penning the first recovery plan in the nation centered on gender and social responsibility titled “Building Bridges: Not Walking on Backs.” It’s hard to sum up in 400 words but below are priorities CSW have identified to create a better future for all in Hawaii:
Build a COVID-19 recovery plan which addresses the invisibility of women often associated with economic recovery. This can be done by including the voice of essential sectors that employ and serve women, girls and people who identify as women, femme and nonbinary, and using collected data on gender, race/ethnicity, age, zip code, and social status, not only on COVID-19 cases but the economic impact of COVID-19.
Oppose cuts in Social Services especially those that include domestic violence, maternal, sexual, reproductive and mental health services that are a lifeline for many women. Instead take advantage of the Federal Reserve $500 billion lending program to expand reform and programs such as economic support, special funds and infrastructure for high risk groups, parents and caregivers, health and healthcare programs, institutions providers, release programs, housing, shelter, and include a 20% pro rata share of the COVID-19-response funds in trust to the Native Hawaiian community recovery needs.
Diversify and reshape the economy by shifting our economies away from military, tourism and luxury development towards “green jobs” in renewable energy and efficiency, environmental management and construction jobs (89.9% male workers) through stimulus programs that promote gender and racial equity. Reorientate our reliance on tourism, which often offers residents, especially women predominately low wages and enhance women’s access to capital in green-technologies and prevailing wage jobs.
Build the state’s social infrastructure (childcare, education and healthcare) and redress critical economic inequalities by raising minimum wage, adopting universal single payer health care, paid sick days, paid family leave, and food self-sufficiency programs. The role of midwifery also needs to be harnessed to improve deficits in maternal and neonatal health care, especially in rural areas, and gender-based violence prevention needs to be fully incorporated in the immediate response and long-term recovery. Rather than rush to rebuild the status quo of inequality, we should encourage a deep structural transition.
Image Credit: The Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women