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COVID-19 and the Impacts on Women

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By S. Nanthini and Tamara Nair

In this time of compounding global crisis, the world needs to come together to not only fight the pandemic but to also preserve our commitments to certain shared beliefs. One of these is the eradication of gender inequality even in the midst of this humanitarian crisis. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on people, especially as a result of their genders, disabilities, ethnicities, socio-economic class, race and even age. In addition, how these disadvantages play out in complex emergencies, pandemic-conflict or pandemic-natural hazards dynamics for instance, should also be of great concern to leaders. When it comes to differentiated impacts, women bear a disproportionate load of the adverse impacts of the pandemic. Our commitments to gender equality and women’s rights should be upheld, more than ever, during this global pandemic.


First discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 global pandemic has spread to 216 countries, areas or territories with over 14.5 million cases and more than 600,000 deaths reported worldwide as of July 2020. Like most humanitarian crisis, this pandemic too magnifies existing inequalities, including that of gender inequality and thus has a disproportionate impact on women.

This NTS Insight will explore the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the women of Southeast Asia. The next section will discuss the current situation of COVID-19 and the response to it in the Southeast Asian region. Subsequent sections will then lay out the current health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on women, including those in complex emergencies, and discuss existing ASEAN mechanisms, particularly the ‘Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN’, and its applications during this pandemic.