Most Countries Are Not Protecting Women Against COVID-19’s Social and Economic Impacts

Global Citizen, 28th September 2020

Women and girls are the most socially and economically vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the majority of countries worldwide are not taking the steps to protect them, according to a new report.

UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released data on Monday that found only 1 in 8 countries have measures in place to shield women and girls from these effects.  

The data was pulled from the COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, which analyzes more than 2,500 measures across 206 countries and territories. The tracker is broken down into three categories: addressing gender-based violence, supporting unpaid care, and strengthening women’s economic security.

“The global tracker supports governments in making the right policy decisions by sharing good practices and monitoring progress in care policies and measures to address violence against women,” UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a press release issued to Global Citizen. 

Implementation of measures to protect women and girls may include making helplines, shelters, and legal action available for women experiencing violence, giving women cash directly, and providing child care services or paid and sick leaves.

One-fifth of the countries analyzed (42) don’t have “gender-aware” COVID-19 responses, the data showed. Only 12% of the world –– 25 countries –– have introduced measures that covered all three areas of the tracker.

“This new gender response tracker can help accelerate policy reform by guiding on gaps in national efforts and funding and highlighting best practices,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said in the release. 

Gender-based violence is one of the great threats against women during the pandemic. Intimate partner violence levels spike when households are placed under increased stress and families are forced to live in confined spaces. Countries around the world have seen an increase in domestic violence reporting during lockdowns.

Most of the response measures that have used a gender lens, 71% across 135 countries, have focused on tackling gender-based violence. Bolstering essential services such as shelters, helplines, and other reporting mechanisms have accounted for 63% of measures. However, only about 23% of countries analyzed treated gender-based violence as a key part of national and COVID-19 response plans, and very few had sufficiently funded these efforts.