Latin America and the Caribbean Rapid Gender Analysis for COVID-19

Authored by: CARE International and UN Women

Categories: Global Public Health
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Economic Participation, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Year: 2020
Citation: “Latin America and the Caribbean Rapid Gender Analysis for COVID-19.” CARE International and UN Women, May 2020.

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Executive Summary

As of May 18, the WHO was reporting 510,261 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). LAC countries have varied in their responses to the crisis with the majority declaring some form of a state of emergency, and adopting preventive measures to limit transmission, throughout March and April 2020. Restrictions are set to continue in several LAC countries throughout May and June, while others began loosening restrictions by the beginning of May.

When also added to the persistent, pervasive gender inequality in the region the response to COVID-19 becomes immeasurably more complex. Although those most affected by COVID-19 are reportedly men, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases and weak immune systems, women and girls are disproportionately impacted by both the disease and the public health measures to contain it. Patriarchal gender norms place the burden of care work directly on women and girls’ shoulders, exposing them to additional risk as they carry the load for caring in both the professional and domestic spheres. High rates of informal labour force participation, and workplace precarity, also mean that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by political, economic, and social containment measures as their sectors of work are the hardest hit. More than 1 in 4 households in the region are female-headed, representing the highest rate of female-headed households in the world. This further deepens the feminization of poverty and women’s vulnerability to the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, especially as so many depend on informal and precarious work for their incomes.