In a recent study, new data shows that women are more vulnerable to Covid-19’s effects than other groups. Many negative factors are rising in countries where gender inequality already exists, such as Afghanistan and South Sudan. Particularly, as working hours increase, many women in research and health care fields find themselves unable to care as frequently for their families and end up leaving the academic field.
In a study of eight authors, it was concluded that women with children are over three times as likely to turn down leadership opportunities compared to women without children.
In addition, as many women are on the front lines and do an average of 75 per cent of total unpaid care work globally, such as childbearing and cooking, they don’t have many opportunities to become independent and work when there is a male already working. Prior to the pandemic, around 42 per cent of women carried the weight of various household duties, hence not allowing them to do any paid work. However, only six per cent of men said the same.
Concerned Worldwide, a humanitarian agency based in Ireland, reveals how men feel about changing gender norms. One man in Mangochi states in an Oxfam survey, I am the head of this household and that will not change. Women do what they are supposed to do, and boys also do what they are supposed to do.”
A rigid view on gender norms can result in some women having to take a lot of time off their days, in turn, vulnerability to domestic abuse increases as family members do not divide up house work. In addition, isolation already places women and children in vulnerable positions leading them to violent situations.
Recent data reveals one in 10 women in Canada are concerned about domestic violence in their household due to the pandemic. This information indicates one major barrier to women as a result of Covid-19.
The same study reveals women also take on fewer leadership roles in fear that they will need to commit more. Regarding research, women also fear that they will not meet expectations for a promotion solely because they were not able to publish enough articles during the pandemic. Potentially, this could lead to rapid drops in employment in women, even though men and women may work in different sectors.
There are many different programs, grants, and foundations that aim to combat these effects. For example, The Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards at Massachusetts General Hospital provides any mother with $50,000 per year for two years. In the U.S., various tax-policies and government funding programs encourage both partners to work and balance work and household tasks.
In addition, an industry with support for childcare and public financing in areas with a low infrastructure will raise female employment rates, therefore creating more opportunities for other women. Low-income areas should also have a basic infrastructure, where necessities needed for the household can be quickly obtained by women.
For long-term social and economic benefits to society, it is important that campaigns are run by any stakeholders, such as businesses and the government. They will show that inclusion and support for women in research is crucial for a beneficial future.
Removing barriers resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic is challenging, however, doing so will positively influence economic and societal situations as soon as solutions are implemented.