Health care workers, almost 70 percent being women, are on the front lines of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Restaurant employees, gig economy workers, and freelancers are struggling to cope as they’re out of jobs due to social distancing and statewide shutdowns. Many of these individuals are without health insurance, and many are without paid leave.
Schools and daycare centers are closing, and working moms are shouldering the responsibilities of childcare (mothers already do 2.6 times as much unpaid caregiving and domestic work as their heterosexual partners, according to a United Nations report).
These are just a few of the examples that illustrate just how detrimental the outbreak has been to women, in particular, especially when it comes to their physical, economic, and mental health.
As Dr. Julia Smith, a health policy researcher at Simon Fraser University, said in the New York Times, “Across the board, gender issues were ignored.”
Of course, there is no question that the pandemic has drastically affected both men and women alike, and our hearts go out to those who have fallen victim to the virus. But it has underscored and deepened the troubling gender, social, and economic inequalities and disparities that we have long known exist in our global society. Women are especially bearing the brunt of this social and economic disruption:
They’re saving lives at the front lines as nurses, grocery store workers, and primary caregivers.
They’re carrying the mental load when it comes to COVID-19, and the mental load of being a “single parent in a one-income household after terrifying market drops and business grinding to a standstill,” as entrepreneur, single mother, and gender advocate Rachel Sklar describes.
There’s also the upsetting finding of domestic violence cases increasing because of quarantine and the lack of escape routes for women and a weakening of support networks and services.
How People Are Helping Each Other During This Time
In this time of struggle and uncertainty and pain, it can be so hard to stay strong and resilient. But we can still help and support each other —from supporting local businesses (buying gift cards, shopping local business online), to donating to nonprofits and your local foodbank, to staying at home and social distancing to protect others.
There have been some wonderful stories of cooperation and acts of kindness, big and small, that have emerged during this difficult time, too: people filling resource gaps by creating Google Docs highlighting people and businesses who need help; people showing their solidarity though social media; people supporting the homeless; parents, educators, and authors providing online resources for parents homeschooling their children; and neighbors checking in on each other and buying groceries for those can’t leave their homes.
As Tony Morain, spokesman for humanitarian aid group Direct Relief, said, “In the worst of times, we see the best of people.”
We Need to Continue Supporting Women
Ultimately, as BBC notes, it’s essential to ensure that women’s voices are heard and recognized — now, and beyond this crisis. Women who are daily wage earners, small business owners, and those working in informal sectors are suffering the biggest impact.
“The differential needs of women and men in long-and-medium-term recovery efforts also need to be considered,” says Mohammad Naciri, regional director of UN Women Asia and the Pacific. “Women are playing an indispensable role in the fight against the outbreak — as health care workers, as scientists and researchers, as social mobilisers, as community peace builders and connectors, and as caregivers.”
At The Humphreys Group, we care deeply about the community we serve and the individuals and families we are proud to call our clients. If you have questions about your financial situation or need support during this trying time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.
We send you our best wishes and positive thoughts for your health and safety.