Economy

Women less likely to receive COVID-19 relief from government: UN Women report

At least 29% of working mothers living with children lost their jobs compared to only 20% of working men living with children; single women living with children were particularly left behind

 
By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 29 December 2021
Women less likely to receive COVID-19 relief from government: UN Women report . Photo: istock

Women were significantly less likely to report receiving pandemic-related cash relief from governments or non-profits, according to a new report by United Nations Women. 

The report titled Women and girls left behind: Glaring gaps in pandemic responses compiled and analysed the results of Rapid Gender Assessment surveys (RGA) from April 2020-March 2021, which include 58 countries across all regions.

At least 29 per cent of working mothers living with children lost their jobs compared to only 20 per cent of working men living with children. Young women living with children were also hard-hit, with 56 per cent seeing reduced paid work hours versus only 44 per cent of young men living with children, according to the report.

It added that women and girls disproportionately suffered the socio-economic impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), be it through lost jobs and reduced work hours, increased intensity of care and domestic work and strains on their physical and mental health.

According to the report, single women living with children were particularly left behind, being less than half as likely as single men living with children to receive cash relief (12 per cent of women versus 25 per cent of men).

Women without children (single, widowed or partnered) were also less likely to receive cash relief (8 per cent of women versus 17 per cent of men).

Younger women (aged 18-24) were also less likely to report receiving cash relief (9 per cent versus 21 per cent of men), unemployment insurance (5 per cent versus 18 per cent of men) or support from non-profits (6 per cent versus 7 per cent of men), the report said.

Among women, those aged 60 years and older were most likely to report receiving cash relief (12 per cent), unemployment insurance (17 per cent) and support from non-profits (16 per cent).

In addition to limited relief, unemployed women were half as likely as men to report that they are covered by unemployment insurance (7 per cent of women versus 14 per cent of men) in 19 countries.

International organisations and non-profits played a role in providing relief measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

According to the report, women were slightly less likely than men to report receiving support from non-profits (9 versus 10 per cent, respectively). The gendered differences in non-profits’ support were substantial in the Philippines (6 per cent women versus 28 per cent men), in Mexico (7 per cent women versus 33 per cent men) and in Serbia (51 per cent women versus 69 per cent men).

The report revealed that government cash relief was not associated with losing one’s job in most countries. In 25 out of 34 countries surveyed, loss of jobs had no impact on whether women reported receiving cash relief from government.

In only 5 out of 34 countries were women who lost jobs were more likely to report receiving cash relief than those who did not. In 4 out of 34 countries, women who lost their jobs were less likely to report receiving cash relief than those who did not lose them.

Nearly 95 percent women in Asia and 89 per cent of women in sub-Saharan Africa earn income through informal labour, characterised by insecurity and insufficient social protection. It is often not counted by governments and aid agencies

The report found that countries that did design policies to address women’s economic security during the pandemic: Women were 1.6 times as likely to report receiving government relief than in countries without such policies.

This was calculated using data from the UNDP-UN Women Gender Response Tracker

In Colombia and Senegal, where policy measures were targeted at women’s economic security, more than half of women reported receiving cash relief and women were more likely than men to do so.

In the Central African Republic, where 40 per cent of the Crisis Committee for COVID-19 established in March 2020 consisted of women, around two-thirds received cash relief compared to 52 per cent of men.

The report suggests that to build back better, governments and non-profits need evidence-driven policies and responses that leave no one behind.

The report was published December 21, 2021, in partnership with national statistical offices, governmental entities, international partners or private sector. 

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