Women on the frontline of Covid-19
Women are at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their lives to save world’s population lives. If only one lesson should be learned from the covid-19 crisis, it would be that women are crucial to quench the world’s population vital needs: health, food security and caring.
Today women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce and deliver care to around 5 billion people. Women play a key role at every level of the food industry and are currently working in more difficult circumstances than ever before, to maintain food security during the pandemic, as farmers, workers, processors, entrepreneurs, buyers, service providers and employees. With shuttered schools, even with both parents working from home, it is the women who are dealing with their children’s care, education and house chores, in parallel with their other paid job.
Nevertheless, women in the health sector remain largely segregated into lower-status and lower-paid jobs. They are subject to discrimination, and, in some contexts, are under the constant threat of violence. As for the food and retail sectors, there is a strong gendered vertical division of labour in the industry, with the majority of women occupying low-revenue jobs, and men occupying the majority of higher paid management jobs. Yet, it is these low paid and stigmatised unskilled jobs by women that succeed to glue together our societies during the pandemic.
Questions to guide the discussion:
- How can we ensure women’s equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision-making, in health, care services and economy at large?
- What can be done to bring about transformative change for equality to address issues of paid and unpaid care?
- What policy actions are needed to better value the role and leadership of women in health, care and food and retail sectors?