COVID-19 must be understood through the lens of inequality. The pandemic and its economic fallout have made lines of privilege and disadvantage clearer: while some are in a social position to be financially stable and stay healthy, others are in much more high-risk, vulnerable situations, and have had to endure devastating consequences because of the pandemic.

Below, we’ve curated a collection of our best research and insights that shed light on the impact of COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, was discovered in late 2019 and has since become a global pandemic, impacting public health and economies around the world. In order to prevent spread of the disease and overtaxing health systems, many countries have enacted mandatory physical distancing measures, closing non-essential businesses and borders. Although everyone has been affected, some groups face increased risks to their physical and mental health, and / or their economic standing. For example, people in precarious and unprotected work, such as those in retail and hospitality industries, may have completely lost their income, or may have had to continue working as normal despite being exposed to the virus.

Understanding COVID-19 through the lens of inequality is vital: plans for recovery being made by policymakers, companies, and civil society should take an equity lens to make sure those worst affected by the pandemic and its economic fallout have their needs and concerns addressed. Further, paying attention to inequalities will help countries and companies build more resilience for coping with future crises.

The best policy responses to COVID-19 are up for debate. Since the pandemic began, a number of key inequality issues have been brought to the forefront of policy discussions, such as gender inequality in the burden for care, and racialized and gendered occupational segregation, among others. Many are calling for more equitable support systems moving forward, such as through universal or targeted basic income policies.

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Gender inequality and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has gendered effects. Women, especially women of colour, Indigenous women, and low-income women, are particularly susceptible to contracting the disease, as well as to economic instability and curtailed access to services and resources. Trans and gender diverse peoples also face heightened risks due to widespread discrimination and stigma. However, there is some evidence that men are more likely than women to be seriously ill and die from COVID-19 in part due to gendered norms such as higher rates of smoking amongst men. Below is a list of gendered impacts. More information can be found in the linked primer.

  1. Women are more likely than men to be frontline workers in essential services.
  2. Women are more likely than men to do high-contact, economically insecure, and unprotected work.
  3. Women’s domestic and caregiving burden will increase, though gendered norms around care may shift.
  4. Men face a higher risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
  5. Vulnerability to domestic abuse increases.
  6. Access to sexual and reproductive healthcare is curtailed.
  7. Indigenous, racialized, low-income, LGBTQ+ and other vulnerable groups are worse affected.