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Quarantine Couples: The Good And Bad News For Gender Equality

Barcelona couple quarantined
Barcelona couple quarantined
Rozena Crossman

The ongoing lockdown in Italy has put Marco Rovello face-to-face with the balancing act that his wife pulls off every day between working a job and running a household. Yes, COVID-19 has forced teleworking couples into suddenly sharing the same "home-office," daily rhythms and — ideally — a fair share of family chores and parenting responsibilities.

"Before, I admit it, I thought that this was more of a routine and above all it was my wife who asked me how the day had gone, and not the other way around." Rovello told Io Donna, the women's weekly insert of Milan-based Corriere della Sera . "To see her so busy, between her teleworking and home chores, it's natural to help out."

Er…"help out?" Being suddenly enlightened doesn't necessarily mean getting all that much wiser. Indeed, a recent study found that one out of three Italian women reported working even more since the lockdown began, while only one in five men felt the same.

French daily Le Monde recently published an article explaining how families could balance the workload, citing the fact that women in heterosexual relationships were already responsible for 70% of domestic labor on average. In the anglophone world, both British and American academic journals are reporting significant decreases in publications submitted by women with a simultaneous increase in pieces by men. A recent study attributes this, in part, to the fact that, "based on the existing distribution of child care duties in most families, mothers are likely to be more affected than fathers' by school closures and telework.

As for the women who aren't working, things look even bleaker. A recent report from Canada found that in March, more than twice the number of women in their prime professional years were laid off than men of the same age bracket. The Institute for Women's Policy Research also found that over 60% of Americans who have lost their employment to the epidemic are women. Some of this may be due to the female-dominated workforces in many of the hardest-hit industries, including retail, restaurants and travel. But, of course, there is still bias inside both firms and families.

This crisis, we hear, will "change everything." When it comes to gender equality, the experience of men like Marco Rovello will hopefully just be the beginning of a wider transformation of society and the world of work. Perhaps, in this case, the best place to start is at the top. Some have taken note that it is women presidents and prime ministers who've been making headlines around the world for their exceptional leadership in handling the pandemic: German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ... Just "helping out," I guess.

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus global brief in your inbox, sign up here.

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The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

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