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.