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

By Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer

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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