The men using their power to fight gender inequality

Agents of Change 2020: As women bear the economic brunt of the virus, men must step up the battle for parity at work.

by Kate Bassett

The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on gender equality, threatening to reverse decades of progress for women.

“As well as being a health crisis, this is also a human rights crisis, with women and other marginalised groups set to bear the brunt of these challenges,” says Claire Barnett, executive director at UN Women UK. “Reports of domestic abuse during isolation have risen in the UK. Women make up 70 per cent of frontline healthcare staff, are over-represented in the insecure labour market and are shouldering the huge majority of unpaid care and household work.” 

According to a University of Cambridge research paper, Inequality in the Impact of the Coronavirus Shock: Evidence from Real Time Surveys, 17 per cent of women were made unemployed in the first month of lockdown, compared with only 13 per cent of men. This gap persisted, the researchers said, even after factoring out Covid-19’s outsized impact on sectors with high female representation, such as retail, leisure and tourism.

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