Covid-19 has devastated the whole world. Many know someone who has been hospitalized or died as a result of the pandemic. The economic, health, and political ramifications are unprecedented.
But do you know which group is getting hit the hardest?
Firstly, women are more likely to contract the virus. In most countries, they make up around 75% of the healthcare workforce. While male health care workers have been working equally hard to save lives, more women are on the front lines risking their lives to save others, so it’s no surprise they are contracting the virus at a faster rate than men.
In February, Chinese authorities sent more than 41,000 health workers to aid the province of Hubei during the early days of the outbreak. Weeks later, 3,387 of these health workers contracted the virus. The gripping part is, more than half the doctors and 90% of the nurses were women, according to the Shanghai Women’s Federation. It’s simple, these women contracted the virus almost certainly because they were exposed to it as a result of working on the frontlines.
Secondly, women are the ones that have to bear the responsibility for childcare. Most of the time, women carrying this burden have to choose between working to earn an income or educating their child. Additionally, mothers in the workforce have to endure the pressure of staying home and taking care of domestic work while still trying to maintain their job. On the whole, it can be argued that women have to make additional decisions that men don’t have to. In fact, according to the Boston Consulting Group, women spend 15 more hours weekly on domestic labor than men.
And finally, the poor economic state worldwide is on the verge of deteriorating the gains women have made in the workforce with respect to retaining their job. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, June employment numbers in the U.S show that 11.2% of women over the age of 20 are unemployed while men have a 12.2% rate of unemployment. Before the pandemic, however, “the unemployment rate for women was actually lower than for men, right before the virus came,” said Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia. In part, the reason for this is because women are more likely to hold jobs in the retail and service sectors, which have been hit especially hard by the recession.
It’s not that the world has come together to push the Covid-19 ramifications on women, it’s just that, historically, women are the nurses, women do the housework, and women hold lower-paying jobs. Even before Covid-19, 48% of women working in the U.S had jobs paying minimum wage.
During these times, employees have to be fired to keep the firm or institution afloat. Do you think a blue-collar job is going to keep a woman who comes to work late to help her child get to school every morning? No! Unless you are a nurse of course, but then you must bear the brunt of exposing yourself to the virus.
Covid-19 is not a pretty picture for anyone, but for women especially, it’s more than not pretty - it’s ugly.