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National consultant to conduct feminist analysis of the socio- economic impact of COVID in Nepal
|Advertised on behalf of :|
|Location :||Home-based, NEPAL|
|Application Deadline :||08-Dec-20 (Midnight New York, USA)|
|Type of Contract :||Individual Contract|
|Post Level :||National Consultant|
|Languages Required :||English|
|Starting Date :|
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start)
UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.
UN Women, grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls; the empowerment of women; and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace, and security. In Nepal, UN Women focuses on strengthening women’s voice, agency and leadership across sectors to advance women’s rights and provide space for women’s meaningful participation in socio-economic-political processes.
Under the overarching UN Women Strategic Note (2018-2022), building on the prior achievements and incorporating lessons learned from its humanitarian response efforts after the earthquakes of 2015, UN Women Nepal Country Office (NCO) continues to strengthen programming with greater emphasis on macroeconomic and sectoral policies, climate and disaster resilient livelihoods, and women’s leadership in economic decision-making. NCO seeks to ensure income security, better jobs and economic independence of vulnerable women, taking into account the vulnerability of women and girls in the contexts of disaster risk and climate change impact. This will help ensure that, vulnerable women’s groups in Nepal have income generation opportunities and are resilient to climate change and disasters that affect their livelihoods by 2022 (Outcome 2.1). In addition, one of the key strategies of NCO has been providing integrated policy advice to the government at the federal level for the development of gender-responsive economic policies and to the local level government for their implementation. NCO seeks to be a key partner to the Ministry of Women Children and Senior Citizens (MoWCSC) in supporting its policies and their implementation through technical analysis ensuring integration of voices of diverse groups, in line with the SDG principle of leaving no-one behind.
The COVID-19 pandemic that started out as a health crisis has now morphed into a socio-economic crisis beyond proportions worldwide. In Nepal, the government had targeted a growth rate of 8.5 per cent for this fiscal year; but the COVID–19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, which came into effect on March 24, 2020 have adversely affected the achievement of this target; with the World Bank revising the growth rate (to fall) between 1.5 and 2.8 per cent. Early reports suggest that the services, manufacturing, construction, tourism, travel and trade sectors together with their associated industries have come to a total standstill. Consequently, this has jeopardised the income of wage workers and those working in the informal sectors. Further, the livelihoods of informal workers and the migrant workers returning home are more at risk and they are being pushed to the brink of poverty. This is deepening the crisis of inequality in a highly stratified social system, which is further compounded by pre-existing gender inequalities. Women are still overrepresented among the underpaid and unprotected workers as stated by the Nepal Labour Force Survey that 90.5 per cent of Nepali women are working in the informal sector. Despite their contributions to the economy, returns to education are lower for women; gender-based wage differentials persist; market segmentation and occupational segregation further exacerbate inequalities. A 2020 ‘Rapid Assessment of the socio-economic impact of COVID 19 in Nepal’ by UNDP shows that three in five employees have lost their jobs while medium and micro businesses have seen a fall of average 95 per cent in their monthly revenue. While 85 per cent of informal workers represent the labour force primarily bearing the brunt of economic downturn; the crisis for women within the informal sector has been severe. Compared to 28 per cent of men, 41 per cent of women had already reported a loss of job during the onset of lockdown. Likewise, a Rapid Gender Analysis on COVID 19 Nepal shows that the number of women not engaged in paid work has increased by 337 per cent and 83 per cent women have lost their jobs and income. The study also shows a significant increase in women's unpaid workload as all the family members are staying back at home and more so with the return of migrant family members. Also, there is depletion of their emergency savings, increased emotional and physical stress due to a lack of coping strategies and the considerable increase in gender based violence (GBV) amid inadequate mechanisms to respond to it during the COVID-19 crisis, indicating a differential gendered impact of the COVID on women.
To support the countries cope with the impacts of this crises, the United Nations (UN) in Nepal have come up with the framework for the immediate socio-economic response (SER) to COVID 19, focusing on five broader themes on i. health, ii. social protection and basic service, iii. Income and employment, iv. macro-economic response and, v. social cohesion. The Nepal UN socio-economic response framework (SERF) also presents responses around these five pillars with the ambition of “building back better” which includes approaches of investing more in women and girls, prioritizing social inclusion, fostering green economy, harnessing technology, promoting evidence based decisions, facilitating transition to federalism and ensuring alignment with national and sub-national priorities and budget.
Duties and Responsibilities
A 2020 UN Women policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 highlights the differential impact on women in areas of health economy, increase in unpaid care-work and gender-based violence and highlights that women will be the hardest hit by this pandemic but they will also be the backbone of recovery in communities. Policy responses that recognize this are bound to have greater impact. To achieve this, the policy brief emphasizes on i) the need to ensure women’s equal representation in all covid-19 response planning and decision-making, policies that do not include women in decision-making are simply less effective, and can even do harm; ii) taking the opportunity for transformative change for equality by addressing the care economy, paid and unpaid; and, iii) urgency to centre stage women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of covid-19 including applying an intentional gender lens to the design of fiscal stimulus packages and social assistance programmes to achieve greater equality, opportunities, and social protection.
Evidence shows that in the current COVID 19 context, gender- based inequalities are being further exacerbated, placing women especially those from low-income and excluded groups in positions of extreme vulnerability. It becomes critical therefore to analyse the gender differential impacts of COVID. There is a need to ensure that policies responding to COVID-19 address intersecting forms of discrimination, including those based on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, work status rguably one of the most significant contributions in this regard, comes from the field of feminist economics that highlights how larger macro economic processes are gender blind, and recognizes that activities, behaviour and decisions of men and women have a major impact on the economy. It problematizes the neoclassical conception of the individual, the homo economicus who acts rationally and is utility maximizing; in contrast it posits that individuals are embedded in social and economic structures, which determines their ability/ inability for action. Feminist economists (FE) posit that– in terms of methodology and focus – modern economics remains male centric, and routinely makes women’s contribution to the economy invisible. The critique of traditional economics is at two levels – firstly macroeconomic policies are generally gender-biased in their effects, and secondly gender inequalities at the micro and meso levels have macroeconomic implications .
The gender blindness of traditional macroeconomics is reflected in the way in which GDP is measured – factoring only the value produced through wage labour, but not through the unpaid domestic and care work carried out predominantly by women – even though all are essential to a well-functioning economy. Further, mainstream economics, with its gender-blind approach, assumes that households are harmonious realms with egalitarian consumption norms; and fails to take into account that the ability to benefit from the use of goods produced by a household differs between men and women. More importantly, unpaid care work entails a systemic transfer of hidden subsidies to the rest of the economy that go unrecognized, imposing a systematic time-tax on women throughout their life cycle. These hidden subsidies signal the existence of power relations between men and women. Further FE argues that under the current reign of neo-liberalism, the accumulation of wealth within and among countries, and between and among classes is growing, further diminishing the possibility of social provisioning for a growing number of people in poverty. By employing gender as a defining category to focus on social provisioning or how societies organise to provide for the sustaining and flourishing of life , feminist economics seeks a more integral and humane comprehension of the economy and of the processes of inclusion and exclusion taking place in it, rather than looking at it as purely an economic activity supplying good and services in a highly gendered and segregated market.
Thus, it becomes critical to analyze the differential socio-economic impact of COVID and ensure these analyses are reflected in COVID responsive economic policy making. UN Women recognizes that it becomes important therefore to question the macro-economic framework that governs fiscal, monetary, trade policies and how this impacts the prioritisation of sectors and associated economic policies that are assumed to be gender-neutral. There is an urgent need thus to understand how the current crisis is deepening pre-existing inequalities and poverty, how responsive macroeconomic frameworks and sectoral policies are to the voices and interests of the low-income vulnerable groups of women, those facing intersecting discrimination including but not limited to those in informal sectors, the landless, female-headed households, returnee women migrants, and single women etc .
In this context, UN Women Nepal Country Office (NCO) driven by its mandate and guided by the UN Nepal SERF is seeking the services of a consultant to conduct a feminist analysis of the socio-economic impacts of COVID 19. The focus will be on understanding how the current crisis is deepening pre-existing inequalities and poverty, especially for those experiencing intersecting forms of discrimination and unequal gender power dynamics juxtaposed with broader domains of the macro-economy and the micro-economic policies of distribution, and analyze their gendered impacts on women and excluded groups (including lGBTIQ+) Further, in line with the SDG principle of Leaving No One Behind, the analysis will focus on unpacking the impact of macroeconomic and sectoral policies on the most vulnerable groups of women (such as poor women, single women, disabled women, women belonging to ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTQI, etc.); and the ways in which the processes of inclusion and exclusion are taking shape in the COVID response and recovery. The technical paper should include a set of recommendations to inform policy action to address these impacts from increase in GBV, livelihood insecurity and unpaid care burden amongst others. It should also provide a roadmap for UN Women’s advocacy on gender responsive macroeconomic framework in line with the UN SERF.
The objectives are:
(i) To map and analyse select macro-economic and sectoral policies from a feminist lens in the context of COVID 19
(ii) To identify the underlying and causal factors that have exacerbated the socio-economic impacts of COVID- 19 on specific groups such as women
(iii) To make recommendations on strategic measures for gender responsive socio-economic recovery in the short, medium and long term
Some preliminary research questions to explore within the five pillars of the Nepal UN SER framework are as follows:
1. Macro-economic framework:
The Nepal UN SERF seeks to work closely with the Government of Nepal to design and implement macroeconomic policy measures that allow for restructuring and that foster inclusive and sustainable growth. Particularly through short terms interventions, it seeks to support increased understanding of the macroeconomic challenges to develop relevant policies, programmes and projects at three levels of the government. It also plans to review existing relief packages to identify how they are responding to the needs of all vulnerable and marginalized populations in Nepal and will work closely with the Ministry of Finance to prepare a more inclusive economic stimulus package, addressing many of the challenges. In this light, the assignment from feminist analysis perspective can explore following questions:
• What is the gender specific impact of macroeconomic policies – monetary, trade and fiscal policies (revenue and expenditure)? How has COVID-19 impacted Nepal’s macro-economic outlook?
• Do existing institutional and legal frameworks of the macro-economy reinforce gender biases; and if so, how do these restrict/shape women’s opportunities and rights? How has COVID 19 exacerbated these inequalities?
• What corrective measures can be introduced at the macro-economic level to reduce the impact of the crisis on the most excluded groups including LGBTIQ+?
• How could public spending and investments be made gender responsive and address the adverse impacts on women and enable a gender-equitable economic recovery over the medium to long-term.? How can women’s agency, voice and participation have included in macroeconomic decision-making?
• How can gender equality concerns be embedded in national fiscal stimulus packages as well as in the design of national policy responses? For instance, how can fiscal policies promote women and excluded groups owned business; can there be specific measures/incentives to promote women’s employment in sectors, especially those that are seeing/likely to see large scale retrenchments? What kind of redistributive policies can decrease the financial burden on households and ensure continuity of basic services in the COVID 19 context?
2. Sectoral Analysis (with a focus on social protection, economic response and recovery)
Likewise, the Nepal UN SERF discusses measures to improve access to relief under pillar 2 and proposes a list of short term, medium term and long-term measures for economic response and recovery. In this regard, some questions to explore will be:
• How has COVID 19 impacted women’s work (formal/informal, paid/unpaid) across different sectors such as tourism/ hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, etc? What will be the differential impact on women’s economic security and rights in the long term, including reinforcing gender roles?
• How can women’s access to sustainable jobs and opportunities that promote self-reliance be improved, for instance in small-scale agro-based enterprises; public employment programmes, girls school retention advocacy programmes, etc.
• What strategic and actions need to be in place for the promotion and protection of women’s economic security and rights to increase women’s access to decent work especially those at the bottom of the economic pyramid? What measures can be adopted to support women-led businesses to withstand the impact of COVID 19?
• What are gaps in the existing social security provisions, from a gender lens? How can access of those who are the most vulnerable to be ensured to social protection in reducing life-cycle risk and vulnerability? What should be the key elements of a gender-responsive social protection schemes?
3. Impact of COVID 19 on the most excluded groups
The Nepal UN SERF emphasizes on the issue of discrimination, stigmatization, exclusion, and other rights violations for the vulnerable group. The framework also focuses on improving civic trust as it is believed that discrimination persists because vulnerable and marginalized populations are excluded from governance mechanisms and other decision-making processes. Likewise, the framework recognizes ‘non-recognition’ of certain people and groups, along with the requirement to hold legally recognized identification documents, which has been a crucial challenge that
has been brought to light by the current crisis (including those without citizenship, refuges and migrants without registration and , women and persons with disabilities who face hurdles in accessing the registration). Thus, focusing on these grounds of exclusion and marginalization stipulated in the SERF as well as the cross-cutting issue of gender discrimination, following questions can be explored:
• What are the underlying and causal factors that have exacerbated the socio-economic impacts of COVID- 19 on the most vulnerable women such as poor women, single women, disabled women, returnee women migrants, women belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, and LGBTQI, etc.?
• How is COVID -19, shaping/re-shaping intra-household power relations and gender norms and practices? What implication is reverse migration, and reduction in remittance-based income likely to have gender relations within households?
Scope of activities
Under the overall supervision of Programme Specialist and a team of UN Women Nepal, the consultant will undertake the research. This will include:
1. Review of literature: Conduct a review of literature on gender and macroeconomic policy including UN Women’s technical papers on this theme, socio-economic impact analysis of COVID in Nepal. This should entail a review of key macroeconomic policy documents and relevant data sets to identify and analyze gender gaps from an intersectional perspective
2. Develop the methodology: Develop a methodology and design tools of data collection (empirical and policy analysis)
3. Prepare and submit an inception report that describes the methodology, and framework of the proposed assessment with an outline of the chapters with a work-plan. Based on initial reviews, the consultant should identify the sectors that will be explored in consultation with NCO.
4. Data collection: In addition to exploring the existing data, conduct on-line Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) to collect data and perspectives on differential impacts on the most vulnerable women.
5. Data analysis: Based on the literature review and collected quantitative and qualitative data, analyse the impact of COVID and present recommendations considering differences between women by class, employment status, and caste and ethnicity with a feminist critique.
6. Draft preliminary findings: Based on initial review and analysis produce a draft of preliminary findings and recommendations for review by UN Women.
7. Validation: Conduct validation of the findings and recommendations through on-line meetings with key stakeholders.
8. Finalisation of the draft: Finalise the draft after integrating comments and feedback from UN Women and peer reviewers as part of the overall quality assurance.
Duration of the assignment and duty station
This is a home-based assignment for 45 days (spread over six months).
Schedule of payments
Payment will be made based on the upon certification or approval of satisfactory performance in the work delivered by the supervisor. A work plan for the service delivery will be discussed and reconfirmed upon the signing of a contract. The contractor’s performance will be evaluated against the criteria of timeliness, responsibility, initiative, communications, accuracy, and quality of the products delivered.
Required Skills and Experience
How to apply?
Interested consultants must submit the following documents/information in a single PDF file to demonstrate their qualifications though UNDP jobs site: jobs.undp.org.
Contribution to DRF outputs