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Gendered impacts of COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific: Early evidence on the deepening of preexisting socioeconomic inequalities in paid and unpaid work

Using data from Rapid Gender Assessment Surveys investigating the socioeconomic consequences of COVID-19 on women’s and men’s lives, this study assesses whether the pandemic threatens fragile gains on gender equality in paid and unpaid work. Evidence from eleven countries in Asia-Pacific indicates that the impact of the pandemic goes far beyond health consequences. With children out of school, intensified care needs of elderly and ill family members, and labor markets in turmoil, demands for unpaid domestic and care work have increased substantially. Results show that women are disproportionately shouldering the burden of unpaid care and domestic work triggered by the lockdowns, and they are losing their livelihoods faster than men. Worsening mental health also emerges as a critical area affecting women disproportionately. These findings inform emergency responses for a gender-sensitive recovery, and underscore the need to take radical, positive actions to redress long-standing inequalities in multiple areas of women’s lives.

Highlights

  • UN Women’s Rapid Gender Assessments (RGAs) gave early insights into COVID-19 impacts.

  • Asia-Pacific RGAs show that the crisis had dramatic socioeconomic impacts on women.

  • Women are more likely to experience loss in paid work hours than men.

  • Women and men are doing more unpaid domestic and care work, but women take on the larger share.

  • The emotional and mental health impact of the pandemic is disproportionately falling on women.

  • More gender-responsive surveys and quality administrative sources are needed.

Seck, P. A., Encarnacion, J. O., Tinonin, C., & Duerto-Valero, S. (2021). Gendered Impacts of Covid-19 in Asia and the Pacific: Early Evidence on Deepening Socioeconomic Inequalities in Paid and Unpaid Work. Feminist Economics, 1-16.

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