COVID-19 has burrowed deep into the cracks in the fabric of society, inflaming social and economic inequalities. Gender inequality has significantly worsened through the pandemic, threatening economic progress around the globe.
The crisis may have added as many as 51 years to the time it will take to reach gender equality, according to an econometric analysis by Accenture Research.
“We risk walking back on what we have actually moved forward on,” International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva says. “We can easily let go if we don’t pay attention. Gender equality doesn’t fall from the sky. It has to be written into policies, and it has to be fought for.”
This International Women’s Day, these warning signs are crucial as we take stock of the pandemic’s toll over the past year.
Women are more likely to work in harder-hit and higher-risk sectors, such as healthcare, social and domestic work, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports. At the same time, women and girls have borne the brunt of school closures in terms of increased unpaid work and reduced levels of education and “gender-based violence is increasing exponentially,” according to the United Nations (UN) analysis.
An additional 47 million women are expected to be living on less than US$1.90 a day as a result of the pandemic, the UN says.
To better understand the current situation and its likely future impact, Accenture Research surveyed more than 7,000 adults in seven countries in August 2020, to explore the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods.
The findings confirmed the pandemic consistently impacted women harder in all countries, age groups and economic groups. Findings from the research, include:
Women’s earnings have fallen almost two thirds more sharply than men, dropping by 16.5 percent on average since COVID-19 hit, compared with a drop of 10.1 percent for men.
Among respondents who had jobs in employment when the pandemic began, 5 percent of the women are now unemployed, compared with just 2.8 percent of the men.
Mothers are spending an additional one hour 20 minutes per day on childcare – an increase of 29 percent.
The proportion of women with easy access to healthcare, including maternal and reproductive services, has dropped by more than half – from 69 percent pre-pandemic to just 32 percent.
Half of women say levels of tension and stress in their household are high, up from just 15 percent pre-pandemic.
Forty-two percent of female respondents believe their government has failed to account for the impact of the crisis on women and a further 44 percent believe women will suffer more than men from the economic fallout.
It’s clear – we must act. The danger of doing nothing is the disproportionate impact of the pandemic will only grow, setting back women’s hard-won gains further.
Considering Accenture’s findings, the Women 20 (W20), a non-government advisory council to G20 leaders, last year put forward 10 policy recommendations.
Read more about the work done by Accenture research here.
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