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Is Gender Equality an Unexpected COVID-19 Dividend?

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gender discrimination

The current global pandemic has changed businesses in multiple ways, including social distancing, face masks, and sanitation protocols. Unexpectedly, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has also impacted the way society views gender in the workplace. The following are ways gender equality has improved during the pandemic.

Blurred Gender Roles

Historically, gender stereotypes portrayed women as less inclined to act assertively, such as taking ownership of their offices and boardrooms and making rational decisions in times of crisis. These archaic and pervasive perceptions suggest that men are inherently better at crisis management while women are better equipped to care for the home and family.

However, COVID-19 changed the notion of what it means to be essential. Many women found themselves called to duty in multiple industries. Men who were no longer able to go to the office found themselves taking on more domesticated tasks, such as child rearing. Many households experienced a more balanced division of career and home life that upends traditional gender roles.

Flexible Work Opportunities

The spread of COVID-19 has changed how businesses work and operate. Temporarily prohibited from gathering in public groups, many people began working remotely from home. While some companies experienced understandable mishaps during this transition, others found working remotely more efficient than commuting to the office. According to the United States Census, nearly 29 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree who gave birth the previous year, were not in the workforce. For many mothers, there is a lack of flexible career opportunities offering a work-life balance.

Video technology allows workers to meet online any time of the day, and flexible schedules allow them to work when it is most feasible. Parents with school-aged children may not clock in until after they assist their children with remote learning. Remote work highlights the many possibilities that exist beyond the traditional cubicle workday. This new vision of the modern workday may include reduced hours, flexible schedules, and more promising career opportunities, giving all workers the chance to pursue their career goals in ways that better meet their families’ needs.

Will COVID-19 Have a Negative Impact on Gender Equality?

While women in western nations may benefit from career flexibility and revised gender roles resulting from COVID-19, those in less-developed countries may not be as fortunate. A recent United Nations report raises questions about how the economic fallout caused by COVID-19 may impact these women and their families. Around the world, existing iniquities between genders seem to be exacerbated by the current health crisis. Women working in developing economies face the following potential COVID-19-related challenges:

Mental Health

Comprising 70 percent of social and health care sectors, women need to be especially mindful to include self-care and address the psychological impact of working on the frontline during a global pandemic. These essential workers must protect themselves from contracting the virus, assist those in need, and prevent exposure to loved ones at home while managing the mundane tasks of everyday life. Women are workers, caregivers, and teachers, as they facilitate remote instruction for their children.

Gender-Based Violence

Historically, domestic violence increases during troubling times, such as during a pandemic when people are confined to their homes for extended periods of time. Quarantine-related isolation and financial strain caused by job loss only increase tension within the home. This means that there is an increase of domestic abuse and violence. Health care and social workers are already overwhelmed by caring for infected patients and their families. In some cases, they are unable to counsel victims and provide resources to help them.

Limited Access to Reproductive Health Resources

With the emergence of COVID-19, families had to shelter in place and avoid contact with others outside the home. Many companies could not maintain production or transitioned to making only essential personal protective equipment, such as masks and shields. That made it hard for women to obtain contraception and medical care for reproductive health. That means a greater risk of sexually-transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.

Economic Fallout

Around the world, 740 million women make a living in jobs that are part of an informal economy, which is not regulated or taxed by the state. This is more common in developing nations. Women take jobs in restaurants, hotels, and the travel industry, which are businesses that are often the first casualties in times of financial uncertainty. To protect these women, the United Nations advises governments to develop policies and aid programs to assist women who cannot provide for their families when the economy crashes.

The impact of COVID-19 on gender equality is significant. There is more to understand on how to better protect the emotional, physical, and economic well-being of every person during these times of uncertainty. If a female worker is facing gender discrimination in her workplace, it is extremely important to not dismiss the inappropriate behavior. If a worker reports instances and is ignored, it is beneficial to contact an employment lawyer.

Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Fight for Female Workers Facing Discrimination

Our Cherry Hill employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. advocate for discriminated workers. If you believe you are experiencing workplace discrimination, one of our respected lawyers will fight for your rights. Complete our online form or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. Located in Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Marlton, Moorestown, and Mount Laurel.

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