Is Covid-19 gender neutral?

Women in pandemic illustration

With almost being one & half years of fighting Covid-19 since its emergence in China it has become really significant that we look at gender disparities that have already put women on the margins of society.

The pandemic has only exacerbated existing inequalities between women & men. The reason being the long-existing inequalities & the patriarchal mindset. This & many other reasons have made women even more vulnerable to pandemics.

While the men are more prone to the virus than women, the woman is the one who is the caretaker both at work & at the home putting them at the frontlines. Also globally, women form 70% of the healthcare & social services workforce according to World Health Organization (WHO).  For a woman, a pandemic also means an unprecedented rise in workload, health risk & challenges of work-life balances resulting in mental health conditions.

This situation only gets worse when women are the only ones losing most of the jobs pushing them into the wave of poverty. For countless women, this means losing income, unpaid care & losing their voices.  These & isolation policies have caused them to be entrapped with their abusers which in turn has caused the surge in domestic violence which has also been termed as  ‘The Shadow Pandemic’ according to UNWOMEN.

The health-seeking facilities have also been reduced drastically in a pandemic as most of the funds are being transferred to fight the virus. The Reproductive & Sexual health of women has highly been jeopardized including millions of women being deprived of family planning services. Female biology has always been ignored in Medical research & it isn’t only limited to pandemics. Women, especially in developing & underdeveloped nations, face even more risk of transmission, loss of livelihoods, & gender-based violence.

These are only a few examples demonstrating the health inequalities in our systems & to demolish them it is imperative to understand the societal norms.

 Despite women constituting almost half of the population on Earth is Covid-19 gender neutral? No, & it’s an undeniable fact & cannot be ignored. Therefore it has become more than necessary to highlight & work towards the betterment of these issues. This can only be successful when we work towards achieving a more gender-neutral world.  The men greatly outnumber women in decision-making committees created in response to pandemics. Therefore it is more than essential to have women at the decision-making table as women are the ones facing the most economic & social brunt of the pandemic.  This can only be attained by investing in more girls' education, having more women in the workforce, having more inclusive bodily autonomy policies, etc. We need more women leadership & more than anything we need to accept the fact there have been inequalities prevailing in societies & it’s time to reiterate them to achieve SDG 5 i.e. Gender Equality.