COVID-19 And Its Impact On Women

Women are already suffering the deadly impact of lockdowns and quarantines. These restrictions are essential, but they increase the risk of violence towards women trapped with abusive partners. Recent weeks have seen an alarming global surge in domestic violence; the largest support organisation in the U.K. reported a 700% increase in calls. At the same time, support services for women at risk face cuts and closures.

Social Impact

  • In terms of the direct health impact, men appear to be at much higher risk than women. In New York, for example, men are dying at nearly twice the rate as women from COVID-19.
  • Women are also facing existential threats to their safety and freedoms right now as domestic violence victims are constantly confined with their abusers and the pandemic threatens access to reproductive health care.

Economic Impact

  • The International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 200 million jobs will be lost in the next three months alone. And just as they are losing their paid employment, many women face a huge increase in care work due to school closures, overwhelmed health systems, and the increased needs of older people.
  • A recent survey showed that more than a third of women report being laid off or furloughed or receiving pay cuts because of the corona virus outbreak.
  • The very notion of isolation has disrupted the hospitality, retail and tourism industries that many women rely on for their livelihoods.

Way Forward

  • Every country can take action by moving services online, expanding domestic violence shelters and designating them as essential and increasing support to front line organisations.
  • Women in insecure jobs urgently need basic social protections, from health insurance to paid sick leave, childcare, income protection and unemployment benefits.
  • Looking ahead, measures to stimulate the economy, like cash transfers, credits, loans and bailouts, must be targeted at women – whether they are working full-time in the formal economy, as part-time or seasonal workers in the informal economy, or as entrepreneurs and business owners.