Let's talk about the gender impact of COVID-19, especially for women and girls. (3 Impact)
UNPAID CARE AND DOMESTIC WORK
The world’s economies and maintenance of our daily lives are built on the invisible and unpaid labour of women and girls. Before the crisis started, women did nearly three times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men.
Social distancing measures, school closures and overburdened health systems have put an increased demand on women and girls to cater to the basic survival needs of the family and care for the sick and the elderly. With more than 1.5 billion students at home as of March 2020 due to the pandemic, existing gender norms have put the increased demand for unpaid childcare and domestic work on women.
This constrains their ability to carry out paid work, particularly when jobs cannot be carried out remotely. The lack of childcare support is particularly problematic for essential workers and lone mothers who have care responsibilities. Discriminatory social norms are likely to increase the unpaid work load of COVID-19 on girls and adolescent girls, especially those living in poverty or in rural, isolated locations. Evidence from past epidemics shows that adolescent girls are at particular risk of dropping out and not returning to school even after the crisis is over.
Women’s unpaid care work has long been recognized as a driver of inequality with direct links to wage inequality, lower income, and physical and mental health stressors. As countries rebuild economies, the crisis might offer an opportunity to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care work once and for all.