Sustaining progress for women in a time of COVID

Ensuring that for all the terrible impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t lose ground on the role of women in society – that’s the focus of new international research that will be undertaken by Flinders University thanks to funding from the Australia-Indonesia Institute.

The research will focus on women’s contribution to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, in areas such as governance, and climate activism.

The SDGs have a strong focus on the importance of empowering women to achieve global advances in development and community wellbeing in devising strategies for the post-COVID-19 future.

Lead researcher Dr Helen McLaren says maintaining womens’ empowerment and engagement is central, but is in jeopardy in many parts of the world.

“As the UN itself said this year, we will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic only through effective collaboration and communication among scientists, experts, innovators and policymakers.”

“It is critical to keep women’s voices at the forefront of intellectual dialogue on SDGs and collaborative action if we are to achieve genuinely fair, meaningful and progressive sustainability” Dr McLaren insists.

Dr McLaren and her co-researcher Associate Professor Cassandra Star aim to keep women’s rights at the vanguard of original knowledge generation. With a focus on understanding and strategising for women and the future sustainable development goals, post-COVID-19, they will bring together women intellectuals and community from Australia and Indonesia in a series of themed roundtable discussions.

According to research led by Dr McLaren, there are strong associations between COVID-19 and women’s increasing life burdens (McLaren et al 2020). It reinforces the need to place women, with the support of allies, at the forefront of post-COVID considerations to ensure that critical progress for women is not lost.

Round table discussions focussed on the women’s climate activism, participatory governance, the future of social work and opportunities for women in advancing the SDGs post-COVID-19 will be analysed and strategically disseminated. Using SDGs as the lens for discussions with community leaders on post-COVID rebuilding offers important opportunities to elevate women’s rights, and to engage women in participatory governance and socio-political action.

“This is important to advance a better world for humankind” Dr McLaren says.



“Women’s Interdisciplinary Round Table: COVID-19 and the Future of SDGs” includes project partners Associate Professor Ida Widianingsih and Dr Binahayati Rusyidi from the Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung, Indonesia. Prof Widianingsih, a Flinders Alumna, is the Director of the Center for Decentralization and Participatory Development Research, Faculty of Social and Political Scences. Dr Rusyidi is the Coordinator of Social Welfare Programs in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. The initiative is funded by a DFAT supported special COVID-19 grant.

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