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Top 10 Ways that Gender is Showing Up in the Covid-19 Pandemic

This pandemic is impacting all of us in myriad ways - and gender is just one aspect of that experience. We have put together a list of some of the news and blogs looking at gender in particular. However, we want to acknowledge that intersections of race and class in particular have a significant impact on people’s vulnerability to the virus and their ability to survive it.

Notable highlights below include this report on Covid-19 in Scotland by Engender. (NB. Some articles are in the New York Times behind a paywall and we’ve italicised these).

  1. It has been widely reported that men are dying of Covid-19 more frequently than women. We still don’t know why that is, but both behaviour and biology could be factors.

  2. For many there is a greater risk as they spend more time in the house. Domestic violence is rising significantly across the world as people are increasingly confined at home. In the UK, helplines have seen huge increases in use, but in France those in need have struggled to find a time to call.

  3. Essential services have been severely affected by the crisis, including access to sexual health services. Whilst abortions were eventually made available at home in the UK, politicians in the U.S and Poland are taking advantage of Covid-19 to roll back reproductive rights.

  4. In Scotland between 59% and 70% of unpaid care is delivered by women (p.7). There are similar stats across the UK and we know that for this reason there is greater pressure on women as carers and healthcare professionals.

  5. Some countries in Latin-America (Spanish) have started to use gender as a basis for reducing contact within their populations. There are many implications for trans people and the wider LGBT community.

  6. Many women already know what it is like to balance the unpaid labor of running a household with children and their work. However, the gendered division of labour in households may also be changing as a result of the crisis.

  7. The historical gender data gap in science continues to pose problems in understanding how disease impacts men and women differently and Covid-19 is no exception.

  8. The importance of gender diversity in political leadership has come to the fore. The dominance of men in making crucial decisions on public health has been critiqued around the world, including the U.K., at the same time as praise for women in public leadership.

  9. Closing schools exacerbates existing inequalities in education in terms of class, disability and gender, with different access to online learning. ‘Globally, nearly 25 percent fewer women have access to the internet than men, and in sub-Saharan Africa, women are 50 percent less likely to use the internet than men (World Bank 2016)’.

  10. Overall, the impact of Covid-19 will pose great challenges in maintaining fragile progress on gender equality across many indicators. We can learn lessons from the impact of other pandemics like Ebola to understand how to avert this.


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