New Reports Shed Light on the Unequal Impact of the Pandemic on Women at Home and in Business

By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer

Update on November 18, 2021 at 09:30 AM PT:

Today, Meta is releasing new findings in the 2021 edition of the Survey on Gender Equality at Home. The survey was designed by gender experts in partnership with Meta, CARE, the World Bank, UNICEF and Ladysmith, making it one of the world’s largest online surveys about gender equality. Achieving gender equality is one of society’s greatest challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized. And too often, data on the lived realities of women and girls is missing or unreliable. With 96,000 responses from people who use Facebook across 65 languages and 200 geographies, the survey provides important insights into gender disparities in areas where existing data is scarce, including:

  • Women were more likely than men to report feeling more stressed as a result of the pandemic. In Latin America, for instance, 52% of women reported feeling more stressed, compared to 41% of men.
  • Across the US and Canada, women were more likely than men to report that childcare has interfered with their work. 31% of women in these countries said that caring for children affected their ability to focus on any work they did for pay, compared to 18% of men. This gender gap was larger in North America than in any other region.
  • Both women and men reported delaying plans to grow a family as a result of the pandemic. In North America, more than 1 in 10 respondents reported delaying plans to grow their family.
  • Even in wealthier regions, food insecurity continued to affect a large proportion of the population in all regions. 25% of respondents in North America reported being worried about not having enough food in the past 30 days.
  • Most respondents believed women should be able to use mobile phones freely, though gender gaps persist in some regions. In the Middle East and North Africa, 76% of women agreed that women should be able to use mobile phones without supervision, compared to 66% of men.

Learn more in the full report.

Originally published on October 20, 2020 at 12:00 AM PT:

The pandemic has affected everyone – but it hasn’t affected everyone equally. Women all over the world have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus – they are more likely to have extensive caring responsibilities, more likely to lose their jobs or have their pay cut, and more likely to feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.

Many women were already pulling a ‘double shift’ before the pandemic hit – doing their jobs then returning to a home where they were responsible for the majority of childcare and domestic work. Research by my foundation earlier this year found that in the US, homeschooling kids and caring for sick or elderly relatives during the pandemic is creating a ‘double double shift’, with women with full-time jobs and families doing an average of 20 hours more caregiving and housework than men. For women of color and single moms, the demands are even greater.

Now, Facebook is publishing two global reports that shed new light on the impact the pandemic is having on women both at home and in the world of business. 

The first, the inaugural Survey on Gender Equality at Home, with inputs from the World Bank Group, UN Women, Ladysmith and EqualMeasures2030, surveyed more than 460,000 people on Facebook in more than 200 countries and territories. It found that:

  • More than 25% of respondents in most regions reported having concerns about having enough food and basic supplies during COVID-19, including more than a third of women in the US and Canada.
  • Women consistently reported earning less than men and being dependent on someone else financially. A quarter of women expressed concerns about the future of their jobs and that they spent more time on unpaid care and domestic work as a result of COVID-19.
  • The majority of people agreed that women and men should have equal opportunities in education, employment and household decision-making.

The second global study is the fourth edition of our Global State of Small Business Report, based on our data collection collaboration with the OECD and the World Bank, which this month focuses on the pandemic’s impact on female-led businesses. From surveying an additional 25,000 small and medium-sized businesses across more than 50 countries, we found that:

  • 23% of all female business leaders stated that they spent six hours or more per day on domestic responsibilities, compared to only 11% of men. 
  • Female-led SMBs were more likely than male-led SMBs to report that they were closed, even when taking into account factors like size of business, sector and geography.
  • 24% of female business leaders, compared to 18% of male business leaders, identified caring for household members as an area for further policy support.

Huge gender gaps at home and in business – as well as in access to education, healthcare, technology and much else – have been a bitter truth for as long as anyone can remember, so it should come as no surprise that they should exist now. But to tackle the problem of gender inequality, you need to understand it – and for too long there has simply been too little data available. We hope these reports, and others like them, start to fill in the blanks so that meaningful action can be taken to address the imbalances in our societies. 

You can read the full reports here:

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