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Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women

UN Women



Policy Brief

Gender equality covid-19 UN Women policy brief

Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women

Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women

The COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to gender equality.  It can undermine efforts that have already been made by development programs and organisations, and hinder further progress. With social distancing and quarantine measures in place, there has been a decrease in labour force participation globally and remote work has become the norm. More women have been compelled to stay at home as a result, increasing the probability of domestic violence and reinforcing the need to pay attention to women’s issues. The pandemic has, inevitably, exposed problems in political, economic and social systems, thereby exacerbating the gendered impacts of COVID-19.


This policy brief focuses on the following issues:

  • Compounded economic impacts are felt especially by women and girls who are generally earning less, saving less, and holding insecure jobs or living close to poverty.While early reports reveal more men are dying as a result of COVID-19, the health of women generally is adversely impacted through the reallocation of resources and priorities, including sexual and reproductive health services.Unpaid care work has increased, with children out-of-school, heightened care needs of older persons and overwhelmed health services.
  • Gender-based violence is increasing exponentially. Many women are being forced to ‘lockdown’ at home with their abusers at the same time that services to support survivors are being disrupted or made inaccessible.
  • All of these impacts are further amplified in contexts of fragility, conflict, and emergencies where social cohesion is already undermined, and institutional capacity and services are limited.


This policy brief also highlights the following cross-cutting priorities, which also reflect the UN Secretary General’s recent Call to Action on Human Rights:

  • Ensure women’s equal representation in all covid-19 response planning and decision-making.
  • Drive transformative change for equality by addressing the care economy, paid and unpaid
  • Target women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19



  • Introduction
  • Economic Impacts
  • Health Impacts
  • Unpaid Care Work
  • Gender-based Violence
  • Impacts in Humanitarian and Fragile Settings and on Human Rights
  • Conclusion


This document was originally published on the UN Women website.

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