20 / 03 / 2021

COVID pandemic is a major challenge for gender equality

AHO's report highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a major challenge for gender equality:

The report highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a major challenge for gender equality:

  • African countries recorded a surge in domestic violence: For example, the number of reports on domestic violence in South Africa increased by 32% during the first week of the lockdown, in Kenya by 20% in the first three weeks. Zimbabwe saw a five-fold increase in domestic violence orders and Spanish authorities reported an 18% rise in calls during the first fortnight of confinement.
  • Women were at the frontline tackling the pandemic: 76% of healthcare and social-care workers, 86% of personal care workers in health services are women. With the pandemic, women in these sectors saw an unprecedented rise in workload, health risk and challenges to work-life balance.
  • Women in the labour market were hit hard by the pandemic: Women are overrepresented in sectors that are worst affected by the crisis (retail, hospitality, care and domestic work), because these jobs cannot be done remotely. Women also had more difficulties re-entering the labour market during the partial recovery last summer 2020 with employment rates rising by 1.4% for men but only by 0.8% for women between the second and the third quarter 2020.
  • Lockdowns have significant impact on unpaid care and work-life balance: Women spent, on average, 62 hours per week caring for children (compared to 36 hours for men) and 23 hours per week doing housework (15 hours for men).
  • A striking lack of women in COVID-19 decision-making bodies: A 2020 study found that men greatly outnumber women in the bodies created to respond to the pandemic. Of 115 national dedicated COVID-19 task forces in 87 countries, including Africa, 85,2% were made up mainly of men, 11.4% comprised mainly women, and only 3.5% had gender parity. At the political level, only 20% of health ministers in Africa are women.

Despite the challenges arising from the COVID-19 crisis, AHO made significant efforts to move forward with the implementation of the Gender Equality Strategy over the past year