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JIG Covid-19 Series: Three ways COVID-19 impact women

[JIG Covid-19 Series] As COVID-19 spreads across the globe, the impact on everyday lives are coupled with escalating death tolls, continuous growth in cases and plummeting stock markets. In addition to these impacts, gender-based violence (GBV) against women is also intensifying, according to reports globally. Women are also facing additional risks as a result of policies related to COVID-19 and the impact on essential services for women. These are noted in the following:

Pandemic dangerously attempts to put human rights “on hold”

Non-essential businesses continue to close across the United States during the pandemic. However several states are taking advantage of these unprecedented times to cease practices deemed essential to women and their fundamental liberties, such as access to abortion. Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma are trying to deny women their rights of abortion, which can result in resorting to illegal and dangerous practices.

Women make up 70% of front-line workers

Women make up the majority of high-risk professions, including nurses, midwives, cleaners and laundry workers. With these jobs, women are much more likely to be exposed to the virus and its health and economic consequences. As the disease shuts down schools around the globe and puts older relatives at risk, women’s care-taking responsibilities increase ten-fold. The mortality rate for men may be higher, but the social and economic harms are detrimental for women. The UN Women team is establishing women-focused support groups to prevent infection and fight the intensifying GBV rates by educating them on essential safety measures. In addition to the raging coronavirus pandemic, the pandemic of violence against women is collaterally aggravated.


Domestic violence is skyrocketing while resources, such as access to courts, are plummeting due to the crisis. The pandemic’s lockdown raises household tensions from financial insecurity and close confinement strains with abusers, increasing victims’ vulnerability. Shelter-in-places also cause cut-offs between women and their lifeline relationships with extended family members and friends. Women are less likely to seek medical or law enforcement help during the pandemic. The hashtag #AntiDomesticViolenceDuringEpidemic was initiated on the internet to raise awareness of the rising, undermined cases of domestic violence, and how the home has quickly become a dangerous house.


*This story is part of the Covid-19 gender-based violence journalism series, produced by the Journalism Initiative on Gender-Based Violence (JiG), an initiative of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. The Series is produced by Angela Riccitello (Writer) and Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson (Editor). Riccitello is the journalism intern at JiG and a journalism graduate at Rutgers University. Lagipoiva is the Chief Editor of JiG and the CWGL Visiting Global Associate.