Skip to Content

COVID-19 pandemic - The unequal social and economic burden on women

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. These impacts relate to the societal, economic, and familial roles that women traditionally occupy and how these intensify existing gender inequalities.

This micro briefing is the second in a series of COVID-19 micro briefings and presents evidence on some of the key issues and mechanisms through which the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women. The evidence is centered around seven themes:

  1. Pandemic attitudes and impacts on mental health.
  2. Essential workers.
  3. Unpaid, informal care, and household duties.
  4. Economic hardship.
  5. Violence against women.
  6. Priority groups.
  7. Power and decision-making.

Key points:

  • 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.
  • 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 compared to men.
  • 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.
  • 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.

About the authors

Developed in partnership with Policy Scotland, this micro briefing was 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 other briefings in the series are:

COVID-19 pandemic–The unequal social and economic burden on women

pdf | 381KB


Back to

Publications and resources