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At the same time, women are also shouldering much of the burden at home, given school and child care facility closures and longstanding gender inequalities in unpaid work. Women also face high risks of job and income loss, and face increased risks of violence, exploitation, abuse or harassment during times of crisis and quarantine. Governments should consider adopting emergency measures to help parents manage work and caring responsibilities, reinforcing and extending income support measures, expanding support for small businesses and the self-employed, and improving measure to help women victims of violence.

Women face compounding burdens: they are over-represented working in health systems, continue to do the majority of unpaid care work in households, face high risks of economic insecurity both today and tomorrow , and face increased risks of violence, exploitation, abuse or harassment during times of crisis and quarantine. The pandemic has had and will continue to have a major impact on the health and well-being of many vulnerable groups OECD, [1].

Women are among those most heavily affected. Among seniors, globally, there are more elderly women living alone on low incomes — putting them at higher risk of economic insecurity. The travel restrictions, at-home quarantines, school and day-care centre closures, and the increased risks faced by elderly relatives can be expected to impose additional burdens on women, even when both women and their partners are confined and may be expected to continue working from home.

Crucially, lockdown situations exacerbate risks of violence, exploitation, abuse or harassment against women, as has been seen from crises and from the early case of China during the COVID crisis. This risks leaving their expertise unheard and their perspectives ignored in the policy response to the crisis. Many of these policies affect both women and men, but special attention needs to be devoted to reducing rather than exacerbating existing gender inequalities.

To limit current and future income insecurity, governments should consider extending access to unemployment benefits to disadvantaged groups; consider one-off payments to affected workers; financially help insecure workers and families stay in their homes; and ensure that small business owners have adequate financial support to survive the crisis. To help parents manage both work and caring responsibilities, governments should provide childcare options to working parents in essential services, like health care; offer direct financial support to workers who must take leave to care for children or support employers who offer paid leave for this ; and adapt telework and flexible work requirements to enable workers to combine paid and unpaid work.

To help women victims of violence — who may face even more violence when trapped at home with their abusers — governments should ensure that service providers work together, share information, and think carefully about how to support victims when their means of communication may be closely monitored by the abuser with whom they live. In the short run, it means, wherever possible, applying a gender lens to emergency policy measures. In the longer run, it means governments having in place a well-functioning system of gender mainstreaming, relying on ready access to gender-disaggregated evidence in all sectors and capacities.

Governments must ensure that all policy and structural adjustments aimed at recovery go through robust gender and intersectional analysis, so that differential effects on women and men can be assessed — and planned for. This policy brief aims to provide support to governments and other relevant stakeholders in thinking about the important gendered implications of the pandemic and taking policy action. Despite the fact that the majority of the health care workforce is female, women still make up only a minority of senior or leadership positions in health Downs et al.

Data for Greece must be interpreted with caution because of small samples. All health and social care workers are facing exceptional demands through the crisis, but the strain is likely to be particularly acute for women care workers. Confinement measures and school and childcare facility closures will increase the demand for unpaid work at home see below , much of which traditionally falls on women. An additional complication is that many care workers are either choosing or are required to isolate when out of work, to minimise the possibility of passing the infection to family members.

In these circumstances, it is likely to be difficult, if not impossible, for many women health and social care workers to fulfil both their professional responsibilities and their roles as unpaid workers at home. Health care workers are facing considerable risks. One particular concern is that the ageing of the physician workforce — over one-third of all doctors in OECD countries are over 55 years of age OECD, [3] — exacerbates the high risks that medical staff are already facing.

The health status of the predominantly female long-term care workforce also raises concerns. Given the elevated risks faced by the elderly and those with underlying conditions, long-term care workers have an exceptionally important role to play through the crisis. Given the high risks to LTC patients and the associated stress amplified by the crisis, the LTC workforce will be challenged to the full in carrying out their jobs. Early explanations for the gender gap include:. Men carry a larger burden of non-communicable diseases e.

Men do worse than women on healthy lifestyles. Men show higher prevalence of risk factors such as smoking, etc. The immune systems of men and women work in a slightly different way, and women seem to have stronger immune responses even though reasons are not entirely clear and research in the area is relatively young. In addition to the elderly and men and women with underlying health conditions, some authorities, including the United Kingdom, are advising pregnant women to take additional precautions to avoid infection Public Health England, [9].

This is a precautionary measure, based on more general evidence that, historically, pregnant women have been disproportionately affected by some respiratory illnesses FIGO, [10] ; RCOG, [11]. At the time of writing, health authorities are issuing guidance stating there is no evidence that pregnant women who get the new coronavirus are more at risk of serious complications than the general population CDC, [12] ; FIGO, [10] ; WHO, [13]. Not only do women dominate employment in the care sector, they also provide most unpaid work at home.

Gender gaps in unpaid work are largest in Japan and Korea 2. However, even in Denmark, Norway and Sweden — countries that express strong and progressive attitudes towards gender equality — gender gaps in unpaid work still amount to about one hour per day. Gender gaps in unpaid work are often larger in developing and emerging economies Section 3. Across OECD countries, women spend, on average, slightly over 35 minutes each day on childcare activities — more than double the amount of time spent on childcare activities by men 15 minutes OECD Time Use Database.

But many women also provide care for adult relatives, especially parents, even when employed. These data ignore the efforts of those carers who are not in employment, and show considerable variation; reasons for this may be high part-time employment rates in some countries e. For example, the widespread closure of schools and childcare facilities will not only increase the amount of time that parents must spend on childcare and child supervision, but also force many to supervise or lead home schooling.

Much of this additional burden is likely to fall on women. Similarly, any increases in time spent in the home due to confinement are likely to lead to increased routine housework, including cooking and cleaning. Fulfilling these demands will be difficult for many parents, especially for those that are required to continue working. Note: Data refer to the share of the employed population who report taking care of ill or disabled or elderly adult relatives year-olds and older , regularly. The relative may live in- or outside the household. At the very least, many men will witness first-hand the total amount of work their partners put in.

But it is also likely that many men will themselves increase their unpaid work through the crisis, boosting their experience and confidence in this area. In cases where their partner is, for example, an essential service work, some men may take on the totality of unpaid work.

This has the potential to help trigger a shift in gender norms around unpaid domestic and care work Alon et al. The global economy is in greater danger than at any time since the financial crisis. The spread of the virus has interrupted international supply chains, and is forcing workers to remain at home because they are quarantined, sick or subject to lockdowns.

Companies from a variety of industries are finding themselves forced to interrupt and scale down operations. Substantial job losses will likely follow ILO, [16]. The financial crisis, for instance, was characterised by greater job losses in male-dominated sectors notably construction and manufacturing and an increase in hours worked by women, especially in the early years Sahin, Song and Hobijn, [18] ; OECD, [19]. However, evidence from infectious disease-driven economic crises often point to sharper effects on women.

Inadequate public attention to the gendered effects of the Ebola crisis, as well as insufficient attention paid to public policies supporting women during these times, has spurred calls for a more focused look at gender disparities during such health crises Davies and Bennett, [24]. For example, from the International Social Survey Programme show few substantial gender differences in the share of workers believing that their job is not secure, with men, if anything, being more fearful of job loss than women ISSP, [29].

Note: Unemployment risk is measured as the monthly unemployment inflow probability times the expected average duration of unemployment spells in months. Unemployment inflow probability: the ratio of unemployed persons who have been unemployed for less than one month over the of employed persons one month before.

Expected unemployment duration: the inverse of the unemployment outflow probability where the latter is defined as one minus the ratio of unemployed persons who been unemployed for one month or more over the of unemployed persons one month before. Most immediately, industries that rely on travel and on physical interaction with customers will inevitably be hit hard.

This includes air travel, tourism, retail activities, accommodation services e. Some industries further down the supply chain will also be hit hard, quickly. One example is the garment manufacturing industry, which is likely to face disruption from both the supply side e. Women are heavily over-represented in this industry — by some measures, as many of three-quarters of worldwide garment industry workers are women OECD, [31]. And, given the global distribution of garment supply chains, it is women in developing and emerging economies who will be hit hardest.

At the time of writing, early reports suggest demand shocks linked to the COVID crisis have led to the cancellation or suspension of garment exports worth approximately USD 2. The longer-term impact on employment and the distribution of job loss is, at this stage, much harder to predict; a lot depends on the severity and duration of containment measures and the depth and breadth of the economic contraction.

As confinement measures expand and supply-chain disruption begins to bite, it is likely that the economic impact will widen across sectors and industries. Indeed, according to early reports, many countries are already seeing a drop in construction and manufacturing activity ILO, [16].

A broader economic contraction will likely involve job loss in both male- and female-dominated sectors of the economy. For some women workers, the public sector may offer some protection, at least in the short term. While demands on many of these workers will be heavy see above , public sector jobs should at least offer relative security in the coming months, as governments seek to maintain demand and deal with the most acute health and social care aspects of the crisis.

The self-employed and small- and medium-sized enterprises SMEs are at the centre of the current crisis. While the scale of the economic challenge is still unfolding, it is likely that SMEs and the self-employed will be hit hard by supply-chain disruption in affected countries, and will be severely impacted by the longer term economic downturn. SMEs in service sectors such as retailing, tourism and transportation are already suffering the fallout from containment measures, from the collapse in demand, and from the resulting liquidity shortage.

The lack of digital facilities and capabilities to allow their workers to do distant work can also place them at a disadvantage in the current context. More generally, many SMEs lack the resources to adapt. While all SMEs and self-employed workers are likely to be affected by the crisis, differences in the types of businesses operated or business strategies followed mean that men and women entrepreneurs may be impacted differently.

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