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Integrating gender and inclusion in social protection response to COVID-19: What have we learnt?, June 2021

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by Rebecca Holmes

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities for women and girls and persons with disabilities. Before the crisis, women were already more likely than men to live in poverty, to work in lower-paid and insecure employment, and to lack access to formal social protection (SP), savings and financial services (UN Women and WHO, 2020). Persons with disability typically have worse outcomes in education, health and experience barriers accessing employment, and are less likely to be enrolled in SP programmes, even when they are eligible (Banks et al., 2017). These inequalities and risks are multiple and compounded by diversity and intersectionality, (e.g. age, gender, disability, ethnicity, location), resulting in disproportionate impacts of the crisis.

During the pandemic, women have been more likely than men to drop out of the labour force, have shouldered an unequal burden of unpaid care work, and are facing increased threats from gender-based violence (GBV) linked to lockdowns and financial stress (UNFPA 2020; Peterman and O’Donnell, 2020, UN Women, 2020). The pandemic has also increased the risk of poverty amongst people with disabilities (Banks et al., 2021). This paper provides a snapshot of how SP responses to the COVID-19 crisis have integrated gender equality and social inclusion into programme design and implementation.