Mainstreaming gender and inclusion in the social protection response to COVID-19: what have we learned?, June 2021 – World

by Rebecca Holmes

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities for women, girls and people with disabilities. Before the crisis, women were already more likely than men to live in poverty, to work in lower paid and precarious jobs, and to lack access to formal social protection (SP), savings and financial services (UN Women and WHO, 2020) . People with disabilities tend to have lower education, health and employment barriers, and are less likely to enroll in SP programs, even when they are eligible (Banks et al., 2017). These inequalities and risks are multiple and compounded by diversity and intersectionality (e.g. age, gender, disability, ethnicity, location), resulting in disproportionate impacts of the crisis.

During the pandemic, women have been more likely than men to drop out of the labor force, have taken on an unequal burden of unpaid care work, and face heightened threats of gender-based violence (GBV) related to lockdowns and hardships. (UNFPA 2020; Peterman and O’Donnell, 2020, UN Women, 2020). The pandemic has also increased the risk of poverty among people with disabilities (Banks et al., 2021). This document provides an overview of how PS responses to the COVID-19 crisis have integrated gender equality and social inclusion into program design and implementation.

Joel C. Hicks