New briefing on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women

07 May 2021

This micro briefing presents a range of evidence on the disproportionate impact of the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on women.

This is the second in a series of COVID-19 micro briefings developed by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Policy Scotland and written in collaboration with expert partner agencies. 

This micro briefing has been written with the Glasgow Women’s Voluntary Sector Network and Wise Women. The Network aims to bring together women from across Glasgow to provide a forum for the sharing of information and mutual support, to raise awareness of, and advocate for, the alleviation of social exclusion and discrimination faced by women in Glasgow. Wise Women is a charity that aims to address women’s fears and experiences of crime and violence through the provision of Personal Safety and Confidence Building courses and workshops in local Glasgow communities. 

The impact of the pandemic on women 

What has become apparent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is that women are more likely to bear the brunt of the adverse social and economic consequences than men. The impacts of COVID-19 on women relate to the societal, economic and familial roles that women traditionally occupy and how these intensify existing gender inequalities.

This briefing presents evidence on some of the key issues and mechanisms through which the pandemic has disproportionately impacted on women. The evidence is centred around seven themes:

  • pandemic attitudes and impacts to mental health
  • essential workers
  • unpaid, informal care and household duties
  • economic hardship
  • violence against women
  • priority groups
  • power and decision-making 

Key findings from the briefingWomen and covid infographic - if you require a transcript or an accessible version please email 

1. Evidence suggests that the mental health impacts of the pandemic are worse for women than men. Women are more likely to be essential workers in the health, care, education and retail sectors – facing higher exposure to COVID-19, increased stress and difficulty reconciling work, family life and care responsibilities.

2.Lockdowns have enabled increased intimate partner violence against women. Women have also taken on a disproportionate share of additional unpaid care and increased household duties during lockdowns in comparison to men.

3.The adverse economic impacts of the pandemic interact with and exacerbate existing gender employment inequalities. Lone mothers and guardians, Black Asian and minority ethnic women and disabled women are priority groups, among others, experiencing some of the worst social, economic and clinical impacts of the pandemic.

4.Women are under-represented in pandemic task forces and decision-making bodies. Failure to incorporate a gendered perspective within pandemic recovery efforts will deepen existing gender inequalities and worsen outcomes for women.

Responding to the issue

COVID-19 has delivered a shockwave to existing gender systems that, if adequately supported, could recalibrate gender roles, with positive impacts to population health. Failure to incorporate a gendered perspective within pandemic recovery efforts will deepen existing gender inequalities and worsen outcomes for women.

The micro briefing contains a review of the evidence and highlights key areas where social and economic recovery policy and practice can recognise the gendered disparities of the pandemic, and respond in ways which challenge existing gender characterisations and address longstanding inequalities, promoting inclusion, participation, choice, opportunity and empowerment among women.

Access the micro briefing

Download the infographic as a PDF

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