The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have not been gender-neutral. The health, social, and economic crisis brought by COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gender gaps and deepened the already vulnerable pre-pandemic situation of women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
On the face of the challenges generated by the spread of COVID-19, LAC governments have responded through a variety of policies focused on the specific risks affecting women and girls. Our document The impacts of COVID-19 on women’s economic autonomy in Latin America analyzes the scope of governmental measures adopted by States to cope with the effects of the pandemic on women’s economic autonomy and gender equality. We offer a quantitative and qualitative survey of policies to address women’s economic security and unpaid care work based on the data gathered by the UNDP & UN Women’s COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker (the GGRT) as of September 29, 2020.
The GGRT includes 2517 measures issued by countries in the world, out of which a 39% are gender sensitive policies. The vast majority of the policies implemented are social protection interventions, with a minority of actions centered on labor markets, and notably fewer measures related to economic and fiscal support, domestic workers, and unpaid domestic care.
LAC is the region that registers more gender sensitive measures and the variety of policies registered in the tracker reflect an increased consideration of gender-based matters. However, our analysis shows that the reactions have been limited in the number of measures implemented, fragmentary with respect to the areas addressed, and heterogeneous in terms of the scope of the policies adopted.
Recent studies on the effects of the pandemic show a deterioration of gender indicators, resulting from increased rates of informal work, massive job losses and greater obstacles for women’s return to the labor force, which have led to the accumulation of care tasks and the expansion of the silent epidemic of gender-based violence. Data indicates that unless specific measures are implemented to further strengthen a gender perspective in the response to the pandemic, by the time it ends, the situation of women and girls in LAC will have reversed decades worth of efforts to promote gender equality.
The challenges posed by the current crisis reaffirm the need to strengthen gender focused policies with a greater consideration of women’s employability and feminized working sectors. The support of institutions for the advancement of women will also be key in order to better integrate policies against gender violence with those promoting economic security, and the recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid domestic and care work.