Women suffer a double penalty for Covid-19 | Fortune

The pandemic has not affected everyone equally, there have been (and continue to be) population groups that are especially vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19. This is the case of people who cannot telecommute, of those who have smaller homes, with the consequent overcrowding … and of women, who are especially suffering the consequences of this crisis both in their professional and personal aspects.

This was defended by the president of ClosinGap and European president of Merck Healthcare, Marieta Jiménez, during the II Closingap Economic Equality Summit held this week. “The difficulty to reconcile when the children were at home has overburdened women, with the consequent impact on their work, their health, their leisure and, consequently, the economy”, Commented the directive. According to the various reports that ClosinGap has published throughout its two years of life, the gender gap leaves a mark of 8,945, 23,190 and 201,913 million euros per year in Spain in terms of health, leisure and employment, respectively. The figures illustrate the reality, following the statements of the head of ClosinGap, an association made up of companies such as Merck, Repsol, L’Oréal or Vodafone, among others. A reflection also that the gender gap goes beyond the strictly corporate world. “Women contribute not only to companies, but what is more important, to joint responsibility for professional, work and personal spaces,” insisted the Prime Vice President and Minister of the Presidency, Carmen Calvo, who also participated in the conference by via telematics.

Gender roles

“The overload that women have suffered is the problem of moving work home, when we have not solved the problem at home. Thus, teleworking is a personal prison for women ”, commented the president of Mapfre, Antonio Huertas. An issue that goes beyond the children and extends to all the tasks of the so-called care To thirds. “The care of dependent people is also something that they almost always take care of”, claimed the president of the ONCE social group, Miguel Carballeda.

In fact, the health crisis has contributed to gender biases, which burden women with household responsibilities and care, to re-emerge and become more apparent than ever. A problem to which is added the danger of regression in terms of social rights that often accompanies moments of crisis. In recent years there have been great changes in the corporate environment in the field of equality, driven by the public powers, as is the case of the equalization of paternity and maternity leave, but nevertheless we must continue to bet firmly on it so that what has been achieved so far does not disappear. “From large companies we have motor skills and we are working on it. It would be very bad for him shock due to the pandemic, this progress will slow down ”, commented Repsol’s general director of external relations, Begoña Elices,

In addition, they have also been the ones that in a greater percentage have been in the front line against the virus, explained the executive director of the Global Governance Forum, Augusto López, so they have also been more vulnerable when it comes to being infected. The expert took advantage of the speaker II Closingap Economic Equality Summit To insist that, although the gender gap has always been treated as a human rights issue – as it actually is – it is now being seen that not paying attention to this aspect is also bad economic policy.


Female empowerment also translates into economic progress or lack thereof. “When, as a consequence of education, women feel empowered to earn income, there is a change in the economic level of the family. More funds are devoted to health and education, savings are greater, and investments have a higher rate of return. All of this has an impact on the economy of the future, ”López said. At the World Bank, the expert continued, they observed an increase in the number of girls who left school permanently in different African countries when the Ebola crisis broke out. With the current coronavirus pandemic, the number of girls who choose to marry instead of continuing their studies has increased by 30% in India. “This is what happens at a time of vulnerability, but it will have great repercussions in the future, especially with such a large country,” said the head of the Global Governance Forum.

Social changes

However, although the crisis has put women in a particularly vulnerable position, it has also served to raise and accelerate a series of social transformations. All of them led by women, as reflected in the different studies carried out by ClosinGap. This is the case, for example, of mobility and consumption, where they demonstrate a more responsible and respectful behavior with the environment than men. “Woman is a catalyst vector He must be counted on because, in addition, he is serving as an example to young people. We cannot get out of this crisis without it, ”Jiménez claimed. Elices also took note of these movements: “Women are setting these trends because they are the ones who are leading social concerns.”

For the president of the Círculo de Empresarios, John de Zulueta, the confinement was the moment to reflect on the lifestyle that was followed and to propose changes. “It has taught many of us that you have to share the housework. It has been an opportunity for men to spend so much time at home. There is a cultural issue that slows women down a lot after having children, but we have to take advantage of confinement and everything that the health crisis has taught us to change it ”, the manager developed during the presentation of the I Report to promote value and equality in companies, promoted by the Woman Forward foundation. A transformation that, according to the expert commented, also goes through a greater rationality of schedules in general, since shortening the hours tends to favor the incorporation of women into the labor market under equal conditions.

From the corporate world, great impulses can be given and there is still a long way to go, but the problems of women continue beyond the professional sphere. “We are still subjected to extreme violence and a democracy that cannot protect half the population still has a lot to do, ”said Carmen Calvo. An issue on which López was also concerned, who recalled a worsening of cases of violence against women as a result of confinement.

STEM Areas

  • Education. One of the biggest equality gaps occurs in jobs in the so-called STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), where it is especially difficult to find female talent. An inequality that must be tackled from the earliest education, since girls begin to perceive gender biases from the age of six, according to the president of the Red Eléctrica group, Beatriz Corredor, at the conference organized by the Woman Forward Foundation. For the board, the glass ceiling continues in corporate environments because “women are more aware of our weaknesses; men, from their strengths ”.
  • Business. This knowledge must land on concrete initiatives to alleviate the gap. A practical case is the school of electricians launched by Neoenergia (Iberdrola) in Brazil to train women with specific training, in order to increase their participation in the labor market in the electricity sector. Also through its subsidiary in Mexico, the group developed the first forum in 2019 Women with energy, in which 40 hard-working team leaders with high development potential had the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas. Thus, last year the total average annual remuneration of women in the company was higher than that of men: 50,086 euros compared to 47,614 euros for their colleagues.


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