Gender Equality. A greatly discussed topic, especially in the past decade, as people break down barriers and social norms in order to work towards equality. The recent and ongoing coronavirus pandemic has given us an opportunity to take a closer look at what is expected of men and women in the workplace and household, and how we can take steps to change the social standards.
Gender equality within the workplace is a pivotal movement many have been working towards for years with things such as ‘breaking the glass ceiling’. Even before COVID-19, women were doing more unpaid care work and chores compared to men within their fields. In addition to regularly working overtime, the pandemic has put more stress on women, particularly mothers, to be able to balance childcare, work, and still have time for themselves at the end of the day. Women also makeup 39% of global employment but made up 54% of job losses as of May 2020.
During the pandemic, BBC 100 Women spoke to 3 women to examine how COVID-19 had affected their lives. With having to homeschool her young daughter and do all the chores around the house, Teni Wada feels like she is doing 80% of the unpaid work at home in addition to her actual job. She is one of many examples of how the pandemic has negatively impacted the gender equality movement, as once again, more pressure is put on women to work, both in the workplace and at home, which affects their mental and physical health.
Including all increased the stress and pressure many women are facing during the pandemic, a significant number of women are not returning to work. UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia mentioned that
"In the month of September alone, in the US, something like 865,000 women dropped out of the labour force compared to 200,000 men, and most of that can be explained by the fact that there was a care burden and there's nobody else around."
All that has been worked towards regarding gender equality can and will slowly be a setback if the world continues to ignore the major differences and difficulties women often face compared to men.
As the world progresses and the pandemic creates a lasting impact, more families have been educating and talking about the topic of gender equality. Some of the ways we can educate oelves or help others who may be struggling are to provide flexibility in the workplace and at home so that all the people at home do not feel overworked and stressed. We can also promote female employees, and offer paid sick leave for those who need it. Most importantly, we can understand the importance of balance and create a schedule and distribute work between coworkers and partners in order to attain a healthy lifestyle. Gender equality is a pivotal movement that everyone needs to work towards in order to produce fair opportunities and chances for everyone.
Andrews, Mona. “Council Post: Gender Equality in the Midst of a Pandemic.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 3 Aug. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2020/08/03/gender-equality-in-the-midst-of-a-pandemic/?sh=75bd804d518f.
Lungumbu, Sandrine, and Amelia Butterly. “Coronavirus and Gender: More Chores for Women Set Back Gains in Equality.” BBC News, BBC, 26 Nov. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/world-55016842.
Mahajan, Deepa, et al. “Don't Let the Pandemic Set Back Gender Equality.” Harvard Business Review, 16 Sept. 2020, hbr.org/2020/09/dont-let-the-pandemic-set-back-gender-equality?ab=hero-subleft-2.