Caring in times of COVID-19: A global study on the impact of the pandemic on care work and gender equality

Produced by: 
Available from: 
Paper author(s): 
Ana Ferigra Stefanovic
Education - Health
Gender Economics

Although pandemics are not new in the history of mankind, the unprecedented speed and spread of COVID-19, the scale of impact and the accompanying socioeconomic damages have set this pandemic apart. The United Nations Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report (UN, 2020 cited in ESCAP 2021) characterizes this as a crisis of proportions hitting the very core of human societies. In addition to the catastrophic impact on human life and health systems, businesses have been interrupted, jobs lost, and many economies plunged into recession (ESCAP 2021). As the pandemic shows no signs of disappearing, the so-called ‘new normal’ or ’new reality’ has included important short-term and medium-term changes to education and employment. The side effects of some of these measures have had devastating effects on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, hitting the hardest precisely those segments of society that were already the most vulnerable. Evidence from previous crises has shown that considerations such as gender, age, race and ethnicity place people in unequal positions of power for dealing with its outcomes. Existing asymmetries of power have repercussions on an individual’s probabilities of exposure to the virus, of securing access to quality health services, of enjoying a safe and violence-free domestic space, of having savings, of being able to engage in teleworking or distance education and so on (Bidegain, Scuro, and Vaca Trigo 2020). There has been growing evidence of how the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated existing gender inequalities and caused significant setbacks to previously hard-gained advances. As early as April 2020 a UN Secretary-General report noted how the impacts of COVID-19 are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection (UN SG Report 2020 cited in ESCAP 2021). There have been many gendered effects of the pandemic, including more limited access to health as well as sexual and reproductive services, increases in domestic violence, threats to food security, livelihood loss and income instability in addition to other physical, emotional and mental hardships.


Research section: 
Latest Research
Share this