Elements of the impact of COVID on gender equality

Decision making and gendered roles: Women have proved to be less visible in COVID-19 crisis decision-making, yet within health emergencies they are prominent as frontline workers (nurses, nurse aides, teachers, child care workers, aged-care workers, and cleaners, retail staff) are mostly women (Lowe Institute, 2020).  Falling back on traditional ‘quick’ methods of decision that are likely embedded in patriarchal structures will further exclude women’s voices.

Work and gendered roles: The impact of COVID-19 will have a disproportionate impact on women’s employment rates and income generation, given the gendered pay gap and women’s relative marginalization from the labour market (both formal and informal). Such impacts risk further rolling back the already fragile status of women’s labour force participation, while limiting women’s ability to support themselves and their families. (UN Women, 2020) This includes the fact that women make up many part-time and casual workers, and therefore are more likely to be laid off or given shorter hours during the crisis and post-crisis – women are the largest group. Compared with men, women are more likely to be casual workers without sick leave/isolation leave work entitlements.

Unpaid Labour and time burden: As women are encouraged to take leave from the paid workforce to take on greater unpaid care work within the home, their jobs are likely to be disproportionately affected by cuts and lay-offs.

Enterprise needs, the gender dimension: Women are usually more represented in the informal economy without any social protection to fall back on and less unlikely to have savings and financial access. Women entrepreneurs are often involved in trade and agricultural businesses. This means their  livelihoods and economic security suffered due to travel restrictions that limited trade and affect perishable goods. (UN Women, 2020). In addition, female-dominated service sectors such as hospitality, retail and tourism are those that are likely to feel the biggest economic impact both in the short term and the longer term.

Access to credit: Access to credit can open economic opportunities and support efforts to mitigate the adverse economic impacts of the virus however, women entrepreneurs and employers face significantly greater challenges than men in gaining access to financial services. Access to credit at this time will be critical for the survival of firms; without open and favourable lines of credit, many women entrepreneurs will be forced to close their businesses.

The impact of the COVID-19 will influence entrepreneurs needs in immediately addressing the impact on pandemic the business’s operations, supply chain management, financial needs, cash flow management and business resilience/adaptability. In addition, the pandemic has led entrepreneurs to think more closely about insurance products, crisis management, adaptation and recovery plans.

Sexual and reproductive health: Access to sexual health family planning, preventable maternal deaths, During the 2014–16 west African outbreak of Ebola virus disease, resources for reproductive and sexual health were diverted to the emergency response, contributing to a rise in maternal mortality in a region with one of the highest rates in the world. (Sochas, L. et al, 2017).

Power changes, isolation and violence: The impact of the changes in household dynamics and isolation caused by COVID-19 may cause friction or backlash or an opportunity by abusive partners to further control and abuse. The incidents of gender-based violence have reported to have been exacerbated  by increased proximity and the inability for victim to get away from the abuser under restricted travel.

Previous studies of emergency situations, including infectious disease outbreaks, revealed that women and girls experienced high rates of sexual violence and abuse. It was the “silent epidemic” experienced by women and girls who often had few options but to seek shelter in environments that they knew were dangerous.

In the different existing power dynamics between men and women there is a possibility of limiting the effectiveness of risk communication efforts. (The Regional Risk Communication and Community Engagement Working Group, 2019) For example, limited or no access to technologies will disadvantage women in developing informed coping strategies.

Similar Posts