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Women’s work: The impact of the COVID crisis on Australian women

Grattan Institute




Workplace Gender Equality

Women’s work: The impact of the COVID crisis on Australian women

Women’s work: The impact of the COVID crisis on Australian women

The Women’s Work: The Impact of the COVID Crisis on Australian Women Report, published by the Grattan Institute, identifies gaps in the existing response to the COVID recession and proposes policies that will help Australia ‘build back better’.

The report states that a good policy response will achieve jobs for both men and women and that reducing overall unemployment as quickly as possible with further stimulus is the best thing that governments can do to support women’s opportunities.

However, the report emphasises that additional policy settings are required to support women’s paid work, partly because this recession is different to previous ones and partly because of inequalities that existed before COVID.

The report explores:

  • the impact of the COVID recession on women’s jobs;
  • how the crisis affected women on the home front;
  • how the fallout for women at work and at home compounds existing economic disadvantages;
  • the responses of the federal and state governments and identifies gaps and missed opportunities for women to contribute more fully to the economic recovery; and
  • recommends policies to help Australia ‘build back better’, with a focus on the care economy as one of the biggest economic and social opportunities.


  • The COVID recession hit women much harder than men, and will compound women’s lifetime economic disadvantage.
    • women lost more jobs than men – almost 8 per cent at the peak of the crisis, compared to 4 per cent for men;
    • women shouldered more of the increase in unpaid work – including supervising children learning remotely – taking on an extra hour each day more than men, on top of their existing heavier load; and
    • women were less likely to get government support – JobKeeper excluded short-term casuals, who in the hardest-hit industries are mostly women.


  • Overview
  • Recommendations
    • 1 A gender lens on the COVID recession
    • 2 The COVID recession hurt women’s jobs
    • 3 Women took on more unpaid work during the crisis
    • 4 The COVID recession will compound existing economic disadvantage for women
    • 5 Many women were overlooked in the recession response
    • 6 Building a recovery for all Australians

This factsheet was originally published on the Grattan Institute website.

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