Report finds B.C. women are more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than men
VANCOUVER -- A new report into the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has found that women in B.C. are far more negatively impacted than men.
The report is the first in a series called Unmasking Gender Inequality, and was published by the B.C. Women’s Health Foundation, in partnership with Pacific Blue Cross. It looks at the impacts of the pandemic in four areas: finances, exposure, caregiving and safety.
When looking at finances, the report found women were “the first to be impacted by job losses, to a greater extent, and for longer.”
According to the report, 50 per cent of women in B.C. are employed in roles most affected by the public health measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, including health care, retail, education and food services. As a result, women lost 60 per cent more jobs than men in March of this year, increasing the effective unemployment rate of women in the province from 26.5 per cent in March and 28 per cent in April.
The report found that even within industries where the percentage of the workforce is split evenly between men and women, women tend to occupy roles with higher exposure risks. For example, in the retail industry “a higher percentage of women occupy sales and cashier roles, whereas men occupy a higher percentage of sales manager roles.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved to be a challenging time for working parents, who have had to give up time working in order to care for children. The report found that working mothers in B.C., aged 24 to 55, lost 26 per cent of their work hours in April, compared with 14 per cent of work hours lost by working fathers.
Calls from public health officials to stay home are raising concerns for the safety of women. The report says that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a woman was killed by her partner every six days in Canada. While there was no reference to B.C.-specific figures, the report says “Statistics Canada found that 16 per cent of women reported a perceived risk of domestic violence as an impact of COVID-19.”
In a news release, president and CEO of BC Women's Health Foundation, Genesa Greening says the pandemic "has impacted everyone, but not equally. Women have been disproportionately affected and this report series launching today starts to quantify this issue.”
Greening goes on to say that improvements to “systemic inequities” could save more than $2 billion a year in lost work hours.
Economist Dr. Marina Adshade was commissioned for the report. In a news release, Adshade said it was “designed to start a conversation, not just about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on women’s health today, but in the future too.”
The report series also features a social media campaign asking women to upload a photo of themselves in a mask and tag three other women to recognize “their strength through the pandemic” using the hashtag #WeSeeYou
The full report can be found at unmaskgenderinequity.ca