UN Secretary-General António Guterres Thinks the Patriarchy Is the Biggest Problem With COVID-19

(Ole Berg-Rusten/NTB Scanpix via AP)

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, delivered a speech to a group of young women during a virtual town hall, during which he blamed a major part of the troubles we faced with COVID-19, not on China but on men in general.

Guterres claimed women were losing the rights they worked so hard to get, though he doesn’t go into too much detail as to what it is women are losing in terms of rights.

“COVID-19 is deepening existing inequalities, including gender inequality,” said Guterres. “Already we are seeing a reversal in decades of limited and fragile progress on gender equality and women’s rights. And without a concerned response, we risk losing a generation or more of gains.”

Guterres continued by saying that women aren’t getting paid enough for what they do and that the workplace is still geared toward men. He also complained that women have no social safety net to help them.

Guterres admits that women are affected by the virus far less than men, but the virus is hurting women in other ways. For one, it’s redirecting funds that would typically go to abortion and putting them where they’re needed:

While statistics indicate that women and girls are at lower risk from the COVID-19 virus itself, they are suffering because of the redirection of health funding and services. It is simply counter-productive, for example, to deprioritize maternal and reproductive health services. Maternal mortality fell by nearly 40 per cent between 2000 and 2017; we cannot backtrack now, but there are signs that rates are rising again due to the pandemic, particularly in countries in crisis.

Governments must take a holistic view of the health impact of this pandemic. All women have a right to quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health services. Governments have a responsibility to make sure women and girls can access these services, even during a crisis.

According to Guterres, this all is happening because of the patriarchy and it’s damaging everyone:

The pandemic is only demonstrating what we all know: that millennia of patriarchy have resulted in a male-dominated world with a male-dominated culture which damages everyone – women, men, girls and boys.

I have many times said that behind many of the problems I have been talking about, there is an essential question of power.  It is indeed addressing this question of power that we must concentrate all our efforts.

It is clear that we cannot go back to the failed policies that have resulted in the fragility we see around us – in healthcare systems, in social protection, in access to justice. This is the time to rebuild more equal, inclusive, and resilient societies. Our roadmap is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We need to take the opportunity of an economic reset to ensure the rights to life, dignity, and security for everyone.

Guterres is applying critical theory to a subject that he shouldn’t. The idea that women are more affected than men by the COVID-19 pandemic is ridiculous, especially in no small part because men are actually dying from it more than women are.

The truth is, everyone is being affected by the virus, not just women. Men are watching things they built fall into ruin due to lockdowns and regulations just like women are. The idea that we need to place the blame for all this misfortune on men isn’t just ridiculous, it’s dangerous.

If the blame for COVID-19 sits on anyone’s shoulders, it’s China’s, yet I doubt Guterres would make that obvious truth a part of his speeches.