The eco­nomic con­sequences of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic affects women and girls in all their diversity particularly hard. They tend to bear higher economic costs than men.

School closures and cases of illness among household members further increased the burden of care work on women. Due to the lockdown and the economic crisis, many women lost their jobs. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the predictions for closing the gender gap in economic participation and oppotunity. The World Economic Forum estimates that this will not be achieved for about 268 years - eleven years later than originally predicted.

Im­pact of COVID-19 on wo­men's eco­nomic par­ti­cip­a­tion:

  • Women are more likely to be in informal and unprotected work and are therefore particularly affected by the lockdown and economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. Compared to men, women are 19% more likely to lose their jobs.x
  • Due to school closures and family members falling ill, many women had to give up employment and take on an even larger share of care work.
  • UN Women estimates that around 47 million women are pushed into poverty by the economic consequences of the pandemic.x
  • The increasing burden of care work has serious health consequences: In Asia and the Pacific, for example, 66% of women surveyed report the impact of the pandemic on their mental health compared to 58% of men.x

Care work in the con­text of COVID-19

  • Before COVID-19
  • During COVID-19

A 16-country study found that time spent on care work tasks increased for both men and women during the pandemic. Source: United Nations (2021): The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021.

Build­ing Back Bet­ter

What can be done?

Given the strong, gendered impact of the pandemic, it is vital that response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic specifically address women's experiences and needs.

The pandemic has highlighted the unequal distribution of care work and the high economic costs for women. The aim of the Building Back Better approach is to move beyond the pre-pandemic situation, to use the crisis as an "opportunity", and to make gender equality the focus of all efforts.

The COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker by UN Women and UNDP shows a great need to do more in this regard: Of the labour market measures evaluated in response to COVID-19, only 13% are aimed at strengthening women's economic security and only 11% at addressing unpaid care work.x

New study takes an in­ter­sec­tional look at the im­pact of Covid-19 on gender equity

(opens in a new window)

A new study highlights how women and girls in all their diversity are particularly affected by the social, health, and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provides concrete steps for action on how to embed intersectional approaches into German development cooperation’s work on gender equality and Covid-19 recovery.


  1. Source: UN Women (2020): From Insight to Action. Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19.
  2. Source: UN Women (2020): From Insight to Action. Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19.
  3. Source: UN Women (2020): Unlocking the lockdown: The gendered effects of COVID-19 on achieving the SDGS in Asia and the Pacific.
  4. Source: UNDP and UN Women: COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker.