The COVID-19 pandemic renders women – who make up the majority of caregivers – uniquely vulnerable. They perform more unpaid labor in the home than usual, including teaching their children, while struggling economically. During stressful times, women face increased exposure to violence, exploitation, harassment and abuse. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommends a holistic policy response that includes support for parents who are juggling work and child care, protecting women from violence, and replacing lost income, including for the self-employed.
The “compounding burdens” of the COVID-19 pandemic uniquely affect women. These include loss of income, additional home care duties and higher risks of assault.
Gender inequality made women’s economic security more precarious than men’s long before the COVID-19 pandemic. In uncertain times, insecurity rises. Due to quarantine, the pandemic places extra burdens on women who have family members and children at home, who may also work from home, and who now homeschool or supervise their children’s education. Women are more likely than men to be caregivers to elderly relatives. Household duties increase when quarantine forces all family members indoors.
Governments can provide income support in the form of extended unemployment insurance, one-time payments, grants to small businesses and help for families to remain in their homes. Governments can assist parents who are juggling work and child care duties by classifying child care as an essential service, providing subsidies for parental leave, and updating telework and options for flex work.
Cultural practices worldwide embed discrimination against women and girls, and crises...