The physical, financial, mental, and emotional wellbeing of all humanity suffers during the prolonged COVID 19 crisis. There is no mistaking that fact. However, women and girls are disproportionately affected more by this crisis. Awareness of this reality offers us an opportunity to educate others, activate resources to help, and effect change for the future.
Here are 6 Troubling Ways The Pandemic Affects Women:
1 – Health. While it seems evident that health is at stake for everyone during this public health crisis, your occupation affects your virus exposure and risk. Women dominate essential work in the US, which significantly increases the likelihood of contracting the virus. According to the New York Times, women compromise 77% of healthcare jobs, 78% of social workers, and more than 2/3 of grocery store and fast-food employees.
Women’s clinics are understaffed as a result of healthcare resources shifting to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. That has reduced access to sexual or reproductive health resources such as contraception and pregnancy care for women, further jeopardizing women’s health now and in the future.
2 – Financial stability. Of those occupations mentioned above, women hold, they significantly pay less than other jobs. Women make up 83% of the 5.8 million healthcare positions paying less than $30,000 a year. Most essential jobs are hourly, with no benefits – no health insurance, paid sick leave or retirement – and pay minimum wage, averaging less than $20,000 a year.
Recently the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found that nearly two-thirds of the 22.2 million workers in the country’s 40 lowest-paying jobs are women.
Additionally, more than two-thirds of mothers in the low-paid workforce are the sole or primary breadwinners. Many women were already barely getting by. The crisis has made financial stability worse.
Many female-dominated sectors like leisure and hospitality and education lost jobs due to the pandemic. In June 2020, women’s unemployment rate was 14.2% that’s three points more than men. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, women were already earning 82% of what men earned and, therefore, have less savings.
Plus, the cost of groceries and basic necessities have skyrocketed, increasing food insecurity and depleting the limited household funds available during these challenging times.
3 – Safety. According to the BBC, domestic violence has increased by as much as 20%, globally, since the beginning of the pandemic. It has become more frequent, severe, and dangerous. Homes have become prisons for many women who face abuse. The virus has limited abused women’s access to family and friends, social services, and shelters. The pandemic’s stress also increases the abusers’ use of alcohol and drugs, which escalates violence more.
4 – Mental and Emotional Wellbeing. The burden of caretaking has always fallen to women. The pandemic has exacerbated this responsibility for women, especially with kids learning at home, and elders having limited access to in-home care due to health and safety concerns. The likelihood that women take over these responsibilities during work and learning from home is great. This extra burden of caretaking is draining women mentally and emotionally. The stress compounds for single mothers as they try to decide between working and childcare. It becomes an epic decision between money for housing, food, medicine, or their children’s safety and education. There is only so much stress anyone can take.
5 – Future Opportunity Lessens. Many experts focus on the immediate crisis; however, women will continue to deal with all these inequities long after the virus. Historically in crisis, issues affecting women are much slower to improve. This crisis jeopardizes women’s future progress in equal pay for equal work, access to healthcare, job promotion and opportunity, and overall social equality.
6 – Female Independence. The Atlantic recently wrote an article titled, “The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism.” When I read it, my first thought was what an extreme and dramatic headline; however, the author details how “women’s independence will be the silent victim” of the pandemic. It mentioned some of the topics above, but the most poignant idea was how this crisis reverts women and men to their 1950’s roles. Women must choose between caretaking and work. Men’s jobs and wellbeing are deemed more valuable than women’s. The Second Shift – a concept where women work a day job and then a second shift at the home of taking care of the house and family – is making a significant comeback due to this shift. Decades of the advancement of women could very well disappear the longer the pandemic lasts.
While it’s hard to read the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on women, awareness is the first step to action. All of us at Everleigh are committed to the health and happy lifestyles of ALL women. We are doing our part to help women and girls in need through our give-back program, where we donate 1% of profits to I Support the Girls, a nonprofit that distributes bras, underwear, and menstrual hygiene products to women and girls in need. The organization has reported a 35% increase in demand for these items during the pandemic. We are hosting a donation drive for these items at our Steamboat Springs, CO headquarters on Saturday, September 5th, from 9am to Noon. If you are local, please stop by and donate.
We hope you will consider taking action to help women through donations to food banks, domestic violence organizations, voting, and supporting businesses like ours who care about women as we all endure the immediate crisis and the lasting effects on our future.