Pandemic disrupting women’s lives most: global survey finds

A global survey of more than 10,000 people in 38 countries suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted women’s lives significantly more than men’s. While losing their jobs and not having enough to eat were the biggest threats identified by both women and men, women were more likely to have lost their incomes and be skipping meals in order to feed their families.

The research, by the aid organisation CARE, is the first to compare global, quantitative data about women’s and men’s experiences since the pandemic took hold earlier this year.

CARE surveyed 6,200 women and 4,000 men in developing countries – including those on Australia’s doorstep such as Timor-Leste and Indonesia – and also analysed secondary data in wealthier countries such as Australia and the US.

Women were almost three times more likely than men to report rising stress, anxiety and other mental health issues, which many attributed to the increased demands of childcare during school closures.

CARE Australia CEO, Peter Walton, said: “the COVID-19 crisis risks undoing the significant gains lower-income countries have made over the last decade in terms of lifting people out of poverty and creating more equal societies for women and men.

“Of the more than 10,000 vulnerable people CARE has surveyed since April, 55% of women and 34% of men have lost their jobs or incomes. Losing a job is incredibly stressful for anyone, but the difference in these figures underlines the fact that, globally, women are more likely to be employed in insecure, under-valued and low-paid forms of work.”

In April, a CARE Australia report warned part time and casual workers in Australia – the majority of whom are women – were more likely to be laid off or have their hours reduced during the crisis and throughout the economic recovery.

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