Social and economic effects of coronavirus pandemic threaten progress towards gender equality, study finds.
Research indicates that women experienced negative impacts to a greater extent than men.
According to the report, the largest and most persistent gender gap was seen in employment, with 26% of women reporting job loss compared to 20% of men globally in September 2021.
Women and girls across the world were also 1.21 times more likely to drop out of school and 1.23 times more likely to report an increase in gender-based violence than men and boys.
However, the study suggests that the pandemic has worsened existing inequalities instead of creating new ones.
The researchers call on political and social leaders to introduce measures focused on supporting girls and women returning to school and ensuring the growth and empowerment of women in the years to come.
Lead author Professor Emmanuela Gakidou said: “This study provides the first comprehensive global evidence on gender disparities across a wide range of health-related, social and economic indicators throughout the pandemic.
“Evidence suggests that Covid-19 has tended to exacerbate existing social and economic disparities rather than creating new ones.
“Society finds itself at a pivotal moment when investing in the empowerment of women and girls is essential to ensure that progress towards gender equality is not stalled or reversed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 19.
“We cannot allow the social and economic fallout from the pandemic to continue into the post-Covid era.
“Action must be taken now not only to reverse the current disparities, but to further close the gaps present before the pandemic began.
The researchers analyzed publicly available data from 193 countries using surveys conducted from March 2020 to September 2021 that reported on health and well-being during the pandemic.
They looked at gender inequalities for five categories: economic and work concerns, education, home and community safety, vaccine hesitancy and uptake, and health services.
“Ethnic minority groups, immigrants and women living in poverty are likely to be among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
“Furthermore, gendered social norms in many countries preferentially assign household and childcare responsibilities to women and reduce their time and ability to engage in paid work.”
The study found that women in all regions were more likely than men to report having given up paid work to care for others, with the gender gap widening over time.
In March 2020, the female to male ratio was 1.8, but by September 2021 it had risen to almost 2.4.
The largest gender gaps were seen in high-income countries, where women were 1.10 times more likely to report caring for others, and in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia , where women were 1.22 times more likely to report an increase in domestic work.
According to the study published in The Lancet, as of September 2021, there was no significant difference in reported vaccine hesitancy between men and women globally, although regional variations did exist, particularly between high-income and low-income countries.
The research suggests that overall, the indirect impacts of Covid-19 varied widely between different regions.
Sub-Saharan Africa had the most pronounced differences from global totals.
The authors acknowledge some limitations of the study, including that publicly available sex-disaggregated data is still limited for multiple aspects of health and well-being.