Gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

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The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 for short) affects females and males much differently both in terms of the infection outcome and the actual effect of the disease in society.[1] Females do sometimes die from COVID-19. Males, though, have higher chances of dying from the condition. That is because men and boys are more likely to have severe cases of COVID-19 when infected.[2] Slightly more males than females end up getting COVID-19.

The gender differences in mortality[change | change source]

The highest risk of COVID-19 for males is during their 50s though the condition can affect anybody at any age. The gap between males and females closes near age 90.[3] The death rate for China was about 2.8% for males and 1.7% for females. However, for several countries including Slovenia, Vietnam, Nepal and India, females are more likely to die than males.[4]

The reasons for this difference are not known. However, genetic, social and behavioral factors may play a part. The fact that women are smoking far less often than men and males often developing multiple health conditions at one time, like hypertension and diabetes at younger ages than females, may have contributed to the higher death rates for males. Since both professional and home care related affairs are more common for women, however, the may have a greater infection rate than men in some places. In Spain, for example, healthcare workers were affected more with COVID-19 than almost anybody else. The fact that females are more likely to live longer than males indicates a larger group of women and girls are under risk for getting the condition. Females from certain racial groups, who are older or have obesity to a certain level are more likely to have severe illness when the condition infects them.[5]

The impact on health[change | change source]

Across the world, females make up just over 70% of the workers in the health or social sector. Almost 90% of the healthcare workers in and around the Hubei province of China (from which the disease first got started) were female. In the United States, about 78% of the healthcare workers were female.[6] Women play strong roles for responding to the disease. This includes women who are front line healthcare workers, caregivers at home, community leaders and mobilizers.[7] Making matters worse, females are always paid much less than the males in almost all countries. Females also hold fewer leadership positions in health sectors. Masks and other protective equipment designed for males leave females under greater risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Women and girls, having already faced health and safety problems in managing their sexual and reproductive health and their menstrual hygiene without access to proper and clean water or private toilets before the crisis started are especially in danger. When the medical and healthcare systems are given more work than they can handle and the resources are redistributed to respond to the pandemic, this interferes with health services that are important to the well-being for women and girls.[8] This includes the pre-natal/post-natal healthcare, access to quality sexual and reproductive health services, life-saving care and support for those who survived gender-based violence.[9] Women are also not visiting hospitals or healthcare facilities for fears of being exposed to COVID-19 and for movement restrictions.

Gender-based violence[change | change source]

Due to increased tension in households during a pandemic, women and girls are under higher risk for being the victims of intimate partner and domestic violence.[10] During periods of lockdown, women who experience domestic violence have very limited access to protective services.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. Wenham, C.; Smith, J.; Morgan, R.; Gender COVID-19 Working Group† (2020). "COVID-19:Gendered Impacts of the Outbreak". Lancet (London, England). Lancet. 395 (10227): 846–848. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30526-2. PMC 7124625. PMID 32151325.
  2. Ortolan, A.; Lorenzin, M.; Felicetti, M.; Doria, A.; Ramonda, R. (2020). "Does the Gender Influence Clinical Expression and Disease Outcomes in COVID-19". International Journal of Infectious Diseases : Ijid : Official Publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases. The International Journal for Infectious Diseases. 99: 496–504. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2020.07.076. PMC 7422797. PMID 32800858.
  3. Rabin, Roni Caryn (20 March 2020). "In Italy, the Coronavirus Takes a Higher Toll on Men". The New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  4. Dehingia, Nabamallika; Raj, A. (January 2021). "Sex Differences in COVID-19 Case Fatality". The Lancet Global Health. Lancet. 9 (1): e14–e15. doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30464-2. PMC 7834645. PMID 33160453.
  5. Jardine, J.; Morris, E. (2021). "COVID-19 in Women's Health". Best Practice & Research. Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology. PubMed. 73: 81–90. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2021.03.010. PMC 8010330. PMID 33906791.
  6. Gupta, Alisha Haridasani (12 March 2020). "Why Women May Face a Greater Risk of Catching the Coronavirus". New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  7. "Gender Equality Matters in COVID-19 Response". UN Women. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  8. "The Menstrual Hygiene Management Enables Women and Girls to Reach Their Full Potential". World Bank. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  9. "The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Family Planning and Ending Gender-Based Violence". United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  10. "COVID-19: A Gender Lens". The United Nations Population Fund. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  11. "As Cities Around the World Go on Lockdown, the Victims of Domestic Violence Look for a Way Out". TIME. Archived from the original on 2020-04-10. Retrieved July 13, 2021.