Fast Facts: Gender Equality In The COVID-19 Era

The impacts of a crisis are never gender-neutral. Learn about the gendered impacts of COVID-19 and how you can support women and girls around the world during the pandemic.


1. Women are on the front lines of recovery.

Did you know that 70% of the global health and social care workforce are women? Since the onset of COVID-19, women around the world have risked their lives to treat coronavirus patients—and they are infected with COVID-19 at a rate three times higher than their male counterparts. Despite representing 70% of the global healthcare workforce, women continue to earn 28% less than men in the sector.

Essential frontline workers, including nursing assistants, home health aides, and grocery store employees, are disproportionately women of color. Inadequate support for essential frontline workers left them with limited options to protect both their health and economic security.
Source: World Health Organization + UN Women

2. Black women are 4.3 times more likely than white women to die from COVID-19 in the UK.

The outbreak of chaos in some of the most advanced healthcare systems shocked the world last spring. But how did existing inequalities within healthcare systems affect how COVID-19 disproportionately harmed certain communities? Recent evidence suggests that sex, race, and ethnicity all contribute to an individual’s risk of infection and their likelihood of death.

Despite making up just under 14% of the U.S. population, Black people account for about 25% of all people hospitalized with COVID-19 and are four times more likely to die from the disease than white individuals. Many health experts pointed out that nearly 50,000 African American women die from cardiovascular disease every year, one of the major risk factors associated with developing severe COVID-19. Heart disease is linked to many factors that place greater stress on Black women, including the effects of disparities in education, income, and housing.
Source: UN Women + American Heart Association

3. Women are struggling to access vital resources.

In 2017, 810 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy every single day. And Black women die from pregnancy-related causes three to four times more often than white women in the United States.It’s even harder for women to access quality gynecological and obstetric care during the pandemic, leading some experts to estimate that an additional 56,700 maternal deaths have occurred since the pandemic began. In Asia and the Pacific, 60% of women report facing more barriers to seeing a doctor now.

The deprioritization of female health services during the pandemic might also be reflected in some countries’ COVID-19 responses. In Afghanistan, Chad, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, women account for less than 30% of COVID-19 infections. Globally, that number is about 51%. The assumption is not that women are being infected less in these countries, but rather, that women are being excluded from COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Source: World Health Organization + UN Women + The New Humanitarian

4. The pandemic sheds light on women’s economic precarity in the informal market.

Although working from home became the new normal for millions, not everyone could easily transfer their work online and keep earning a steady income. Estimates suggest that workers in the informal economy lost as much as 60% of their income during the first month of the pandemic. About 740 million women work in the informal economy, meaning women are overrepresented in the informal economy in many countries, including the majority of countries in Africa and Southern Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, three out of four workers in the informal economy, excluding agriculture, are women.

The U.S. economy lost 140,000 jobs in December—and women accounted for all of them. How is that possible? Women lost 156,000 jobs while men gained 16,000. When race and ethnicity are taken into account, the disparity deepens. Black and Latina women work in some of the pandemic’s hardest-hit sectors, often in roles that lack paid sick leave and remote work options. As schools and daycares closed, many women had no choice but to leave the workforce to take care of their children or other relatives.
Source: UN Women + International Labour Organization

To help women who recently lost their jobs due to the pandemic, nonprofit organizations like Sheepcare Community Centre in Kenya are offering ways to find new livelihoods through projects such as crocheting.

“It’s so saddening we’re in this situation, but sometimes problems are the mother of invention.” — Luke, Project Leader of Sheepcare Community Centre

5. Women’s unpaid workloads have intensified.

Three billion people lack access to clean water and soap at home, so COVID-19 protection measures mean more work for women and girls. In 80% of households where water isn’t readily available, women and girls are responsible for collecting water, which increases their risk of catching the coronavirus at overcrowded community pumps. Global Water Challenge, an organization advancing gender equity through clean water access in Rwanda, is trying to minimize this burden by increasing access to safe and clean water for 750 families and 3,000 individuals.
Source: UN Women + Global Water Challenge

6. Domestic violence calls have increased during the pandemic in many countries.

The lockdown helped slow the spread of COVID-19 and saved countless lives as a result. Unfortunately, quarantine has also isolated many domestic abuse victims from their friends and community and limited their ability to escape from dangerous situations or access vital resources.

Worldwide it’s estimated that cases of domestic violence increased by 25% during the lockdown. In the United Kingdom, 16 women died due to domestic violence in March, which is a sharp uptick compared to data from the same period in past decades. Some countries, like the United States, reported a decline in domestic abuse calls. However, experts suggest that is because it’s more difficult to report violence or seek help during these times. A report released by the International Rescue Committee last October said that 73% of women who are refugees or experiencing displacement reported an increase in domestic violence due to COVID-19.

Harriet, one of GlobalGiving’s Girl Fund cohort leaders, has seen firsthand how the pandemic worsened gender-based violence in communities. Harriet said the Women’s Global Education Project, which she leads, is innovating to provide counseling for girls when they return to school, especially in areas where girls don’t have access to cell phones to reach out to others for support.
Source: UN Women + GlobalGiving’s Webinar + International Rescue Committee

7. The unequal distribution of financial resources disproportionately impacts women and minorities.

Following the widespread closure of businesses after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts in the United States estimated that upwards of 90% of businesses owned by people of color or women would be denied access to the Paycheck Protection Program in April. Only 12% of Black and Hispanic business owners who applied for the forgivable low-interest loan under the federal initiative received it, according to a survey from racial equity groups. Many businesses, such as Spanx, have stepped up to provide grants for women and minority-owned businesses that had to close during the pandemic. The Red Backpack Fund has donated $5 million to female entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19.
Source: CBS News + GlobalGiving Learn Library

8. 1,300 GlobalGiving partners are continuing to fight for gender equality in the COVID-19 era.

Our incredible nonprofit partners have kept their missions alive during the pandemic despite all the obstacles. To learn more from other nonprofits in our community, GlobalGiving’s Girl Fund leaders met to discuss challenges, successes, and lessons learned as they advanced their gender equality work. Ricky from Adolescent Health Champions emphasized the importance of supporting organizations that strive for gender equality as they solve problems in their communities.

“It’s so easy for gender equality to fall down the list in terms of priority when we’re dealing with health, education, and economic crises. But we would argue that it’s more important than ever to be looking at all of those things with a gendered lens.” — Ricky, Project Leader of Adolescent Health Champions

9. Cash is the best way to support organizations that uplift women and girls.

A global survey of nonprofit organizations found that one in three organizations is at risk of shutting down over the next 12 months due to losses linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Now more than ever, nonprofits need monetary support to keep their doors open and continue listening to the needs of women and girls in their communities. From women-led water initiatives in Rwanda to providing comprehensive health, empowerment, and livelihood training in Uganda, GlobalGiving’s Girl Fund cohort leaders are dedicated to serving their communities—no matter the circumstances.

Help create a better future for women and girls around the world. Your donation up to $50 will be matched at 50% from March 8-12, 2021.*


*Terms and conditions apply.

Featured Photo: Creating Change in Moshi, Tanzania by The African Impact Foundation

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