From job cuts to worsening mental and physical health, women are paying a higher price of this pandemic.
The pandemic has been brutal not just on people's physical and mental health but also in their ability to survive. More than 25 million people lost their jobs in March and April in the US and that is alarming but what is more disheartening is that women took the brunt of it, especially those of color. There are disproportionate effects by race, ethnicity, age, and marital status, according to Forbes. The economic downturn has been immense for individuals and many may not be able to recover from it. However, the pandemic has brought out gender discrimination and racism clearly to the fore when we look at who faced job cuts more. That's only the most visible way in which women are affected by the pandemic. Women are also paying a heavy price in other ways.
Here are six ways in which the pandemic is affecting women more than men:
The women who lost their jobs were already the most financially vulnerable ones. If we were to look at numbers, 13.4 million women lost their jobs compared to 11.9 million men during the same period. This resulted in only 45.8% of adult women being employed in April 2020. Many women are the sole breadwinners and losing their job is a big hit that could push them into poverty. Black, Asian, and Latina women were more affected in their employment-to-population ratios from February to April 2020 than White women.
Women worked four times more doing unpaid work than men during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). "Despite the rise in men's contribution to household chores, women shouldered most of the household labor, doing nearly four times as much unpaid work as men," İpek İlkkaracan, who helped prepare the survey, was quoted as saying by Bianet. With entire families being stuck at home, the demand for domestic and care services was on the rise and women faced the brunt of it.
With schools being closed and remote learning being promoted, women are also being burdened with the majority of the task of sitting through classes with children. Apart from the high demand for unpaid work at home, which includes more demand for household consumption items, women are also having to spend time with school work for kids. Many women work from home now and are also focussing on homeschooling their children compared to men, who are less likely to lose their job, as per The Conversation.
With many hours spent at jobs and increased domestic labor, many women are finding lesser time for self-care and wellbeing, which can increase stress. Higher stress is also linked to increased cases of depression and anxiety. "Stress expresses itself in all of the body's organs — and usually not in a good way," said dermatologist David J. Leffell, chief of dermatologic surgery and cutaneous oncology at the Yale School of Medicine, to AARP.
With people being in a flight-or-fight state due to the pandemic, stress can cause headaches, heart attacks, weight gain, digestive troubles, skin rashes, general aches and pains, and even accelerated aging.
Women find same-sex social interactions to be more rewarding than males, according to a study by Georgia State University. Women are also more affected by oxytocin than men which is why being unable to have social interaction with other women can be disheartening for them. More importantly, staying indoors for long hours has multiple harmful effects. "Staying inside all the time may lead to one missing out on several health benefits of sunlight," NYC-based physician Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, tells Bustle. "Exposure to the sun is essential as it can help with the regulation of one's circadian clock, it enables the body to synthesize vitamin D, and additionally helps to improve one's mood."
The rise in domestic abuse across the world has been so high that the UN described it as a "shadow pandemic" alongside Covid-19. As per BBC, cases have increased by 20% during the lockdown because many people are trapped at home with their abuser. The victims of domestic abuse are also finding it harder to call crisis hotlines and with higher unemployment, it has become harder for women to move out.
"Financial resources are a huge factor in being able to get away from your abuser, and right now we are in an economic crisis" and are socially isolated, Kiesha Preston, an advocate for survivors of domestic abuse, told NPR. "This honestly creates a situation where it's easier for abusers to utilize finances as a tool of abuse," she added.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Text the Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor 24/7 in the U.S. and Canada.
Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357.
Call the National Alliance on Mental Illness' HelpLine at 1-800-950-6264.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.