“What kind of impact is COVID-19 having on gender equality?”

  • Some are calling COVID-19 America’s first female recession. In less than three months, COVID-19 erased a decade of progress for American women in the workplace (source, the19th).
    • Although women make up less than half the American workforce, over 11.5 million women have lost jobs as compared to 9 million men. (source, Pew Research Center)
    • McKinsey and Oxford Economics estimate that it will take women two years longer than men to recover to pre-COVID employment levels. (source, Fortune Magazine)
  • Gender-based violence and higher rates of female poverty, particularly among women of color, have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Restrictions on movement and shelter-in-place orders have confined more women with their abusers. (source, Harvard Kennedy School)
  • One in three jobs held by women has been deemed essential, with women of color most likely doing the essential work. Essential workers are at increased risk of COVID-19. (source, New York Times)
    • More than 1 in 3 (37 percent) Black women are in a front-line job. (source, National Women’s Law Center)
    • 70% of frontline health care workers are women. Of the over 9,000 COVID-19 cases reported among health professionals over a two-month period, 73% were women. (source, CDC COVID-19 Response Team)
    • As Myra Jones-Taylor, Ph.D., the chief policy officer at Zero to Three, a group that advocates for issues about babies and toddlers recently told The New York Times, “[t]he fact that a low-wage sector so heavily made up of women of color is being asked by society to assume more risk by remaining open speaks to ‘the disposable nature of this work—the less-than approach to and appreciation of this work.’” (source, Prism)
  • In a survey conducted for the Time’s Up Foundation, roughly half of Black (48%) and Latinx (51%) women reported not having enough money to pay for basic needs. (source, Time’s Up Foundation)
  • COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on female entrepreneurs and much of the rebuilding after the pandemic will fall on them. (source, World Economic Forum)

This research adds to reams of existing evidence underscoring the extent to which the pandemic has chipped away at hard-earned progress towards both greater gender equality and women’s economic rights, while exacerbating an already terrifying mental health crisis.


Longstanding gender inequities have left many women in a precarious economic position, making them particularly vulnerable to the disastrous economic consequences of the pandemic.

108 U.S. corporations – Amicus Brief in Virginia v Ferriero

“We completely ignore or undervalue the role that women are playing, not just in their own families as breadwinners, but also as economic drivers of the economy. If women don’t benefit, the policies need to change because we’re all going to lose.”

Heather McCulloch
Founder, Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap
  • Hawai’i has proposed a gender equality COVID-19 plan to go beyond response and recovery to also include repair and revival. The focus of which would repair historic harms and intergenerational trauma and include the revival of place-based practices and knowledge and self-determination (source, Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women).



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