Impact on women and gender equality
Increased exposure and risk as primary caretakers, healthcare workers, and first responders
Women are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response as healthcare workers, social workers, and care workers. This makes them more exposed to the risk of contracting the virus. According to a figure by Women in Global Health (WGH) and the World Health Organization (WHO), women comprise over 70% of the global health and social care workforce. Female health and social workers face specific challenges and barriers: they only hold 25% of senior roles, get paid 26% less than their male colleagues, and face bias, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Women have also been more exposed to contracting the virus because of their disproportionate involvement in caring for the sick at home and attending to the funeral rituals. All of these challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Uganda, because transportation was banned to prevent the spread of COVID-19, hospital staff are taken to work in hospital-owned vehicles, with up to 14 health workers per vehicle, and no social distancing. A female healthcare worker in Iraq shared that women healthcare workers are facing significantly longer hours and increased responsibilities both at work and at home, in addition to the risk and stigma of infecting their families.
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