Gender Equality


Across every sphere — from health to the economy, security to social protection — the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are disproportionately affecting women. The UN Secretary-General alerted the world that the crisis could even reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights in the past decades; however, the current crisis could also provide a rare chance to disrupt gender stereotypes, show that leadership and decision-making should be shared responsibilities and build back better and more gender-inclusive world.


  • 70 per cent of the healthcare workers risking their lives are women.
  • 60 per cent of women’s employment is in the informal economy with few protections against dismissal and limited access to social protection; even before COVID-19, women aged 25 to 35 were 25 per cent more likely than men to live in extreme poverty.
  • Women’s jobs are at risk; among G7 countries, women make up 88 per cent of the hard-hit services industry.
  • Women already do three times as much unpaid care work as men.
  • Research shows that for every three men quoted in media coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak, only one woman is quoted.


  • Women are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to holding positions in healthcare and social work, many essential jobs — such as retail clerks and cleaners — are disproportionately held by women globally.
  • The economic impacts of COVID-19 are magnified for women as more women work in low-paying, insecure and informal jobs. In addition, millions of jobs in the services sector — including retail, hospitality and tourism — where women and women-owned businesses are overrepresented have already disappeared.
  • Women’s healthcare — including sexual and reproductive health — is harder to access at this time as resources are being diverted to address the pandemic.
  • Confinement measures lead to increased or first-time violence and abuse against women and children. At the same time, resources to support women experiencing violence are less available and accessible at this time.
  • Social norms — such as expectations that women and girls are responsible for doing domestic chores and nursing sick family members — expose women and girls to greater health risks and cause a disproportionate burden of care. With the virus spreading and 850 million children around the world home from school, the additional care burden continues to primarily fall on women


  • Ensure women’s representation and inclusion in all planning and decision making, specifically with COVID-19-related policies and responses.
  • Provide flexible working arrangements as well as paid sick, family and emergency leave for parents and caretakers, keeping in mind that the majority of unpaid care work falls to women.
  • Support employment and income protection for women across the value chain.
  • Honour existing contracts with women-owned businesses, support their recovery and engage with them as supply chains are re-established.
  • Ensure access to quality healthcare for all women and girls — especially as resources are diverted to address the pandemic.
  • Collect data disaggregated by gender, age and other factors to track the impact of all response efforts.
  • Help challenge gender norms through marketing and advertising, encouraging unpaid care to be shared more equally.
  • Chief executive officers and executive teams can publicly signal their commitment to advance gender equality — particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic — by signing the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles.


  • Raising awareness and support for domestic violence victims: Natura & Co. created a global campaign called #IsolatedNotAlone to raise awareness of the domestic abuse crisis exacerbated by isolation during COVID-19.
  • Leveraging products to support women and girls: BASF “Helping Hands” initiative produces disinfectants and distributes masks free of charge to hospitals and other public healthcare facilities.
  • Providing flexible working arrangements for parents and caretakers: Danone granted extensive coverage (health, childcare, quarantine) for employees worldwide.
  • Offering support for victims of increased domestic violence: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield turned retail stores to domestic violence shelters at this time.
  • Providing paid leave when needed: Vodaphone is offering ten days of paid leave to employees affected by domestic violence.
  • Supporting women-owned businesses: SheaMoisture, a Unilever brand, created a relief fund to assist women of color entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19.
  • Using philanthropic efforts to support women and girls: PVH has donated funds as well as PPE to fight COVID-19.


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