Covid exacerbates disparities for women

The Global Gender Gap Report of 2021 says that another generation are going to have to wait for gender parity. One of the reasons for this, they say, is the impact of Covid.

Women have been ‘locked down’ with abusers. UN Women referred to violence against women as the shadow pandemic during Covid. All types of violence against women, but particularly domestic violence, has increased over the last 18 months. Domestic violence helplines in many nations have seen an upsurge in calls during the pandemic, while at the same time many women’s help and support organisations have lost resources as these are diverted.

Economic challenges have seen many lose employment, with women bearing the greater burden of that. A Mckinsey report suggested women were 1.8 times more vulnerable to job loss than men, accounting for 54% of job losses during the pandemic even though they make up just 39% of the world population. Lack of financial stability for women, particularly in poorer countries, means the effects of Covid-related economic impacts for women is greater.

A UN briefing paper said that ‘the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic’ . Reallocation of resources has adversely affected women, particularly in the area of reproduction and sexual health. The majority of health care workers are women, exposing them disproportionally to the virus, while the must also bear a greater burden for care of others at home during lockdowns associated with the pandemic.

Governments and legal bodies now have a reason, or is it an excuse, to put aside the needs of women. The long term consequences for women are being ignored. The Gender Gap report suggests that closing the gender gap has increased by that generation, from 99.5 years to 135.6.

Do we simply sit back and accept this? We too will be culpable before our daughters grand-daughters and great grand-daughters. While we can’t ignore the pandemic, we should not accept as inevitable its consequences for women.