Alongside the other activities of the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, we are monitoring and analysing the development and consequences of the new coronavirus and Covid-19. As well as establishing the impact on the economy, the climate and mental health, it is also important to understand what it means for gender equality. We are therefore assessing the consequences of recent developments for women and men.
The situation is new and events are moving quickly. All assessments carry a degree of uncertainty since statistical data is often lacking. What we can see is that the pandemic and the measures that the government is taking are affecting all six of the areas covered by Sweden’s gender equality sub-goals. Below are our comments on what this means for gender equality, based on the knowledge we have at this time.
Both internationally and in Sweden men make out a majority of the known covid-19 cases and they run a higher risk of dying of the virus than women. At the same time the huge changes that we are seeing in society now risk leading to poor mental health which affects more women than men.
Since the labour market is gender segregated – significantly more women work in certain professions and industries and significantly more men in others – the pandemic may hit with varying force.
If distance learning is prolonged the quality of the education can be adversely affected, especially for the students who are in need of special support.
Most of decision makers are men. Around a quarter of the world’s members of parliament and less than 10% of the world’s heads of state and government are women. At the same time women’s needs are not met to the same extent when women have less impact in the decision making processes.
Jobs are not the only area affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Unpaid care and housework may also be impacted. Before the pandemic, women did more of the housework than men. It is too early to predict whether there will be any change.