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03 July 2020

Essays on Equality: Covid-19 edition

The gendered impacts of the coronavirus crisis

Essays on Equality

Download the essay collection

Covid-19 edition

Produced by the Global Institute for Women's Leadership, the latest edition of Essays on Equality,  is dedicated to looking at the gendered impacts of the coronavirus crisis. 

Download the collection and read GIWL Chair Julia Gillard's foreword to it below.


As the weeks and months of various lockdowns around the world have gone by, we’ve seen an abundance of evidence that pre-existing gender disadvantages are being compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership has been among those looking at the varying impacts of the crisis on women and men. In a survey carried out in the third week of May, we found that men in the UK are more likely to think childcare is getting in the way of their jobs – despite women taking on more of it during lockdown.

At the same time, women appear to be carrying out more vital community-minded responsibilities. Seven in 10 say they’ve offered help to friends, family and neighbours during this crisis, compared with six in 10 men.

The survey also found notable differences in how women and men have been coping with the UK’s lockdown and their concerns about life gradually returning to normal.

GIWL will continue to explore how women and men are being affected by this crisis, as well as carrying out research into the measures taken to address the unprecedented changes we’re seeing. For example, our Senior Research Fellow, Dr Rose Cook, has recently been awarded a competitive grant from UK Research and Innovation to assess whether the UK’s social policy response to Covid-19 has sufficiently taken into account gender in its design, access and impacts.

Meanwhile, in another project, we’re using natural language processing techniques to analyse the representation of women in media coverage related to Covid-19 in the UK, US and Australia. At a time like this, the issue of whose voices are heard and which expertise is listened to and promoted is of the utmost importance.

We’ll also continue to bring together experts to discuss the gendered implications of this crisis, promote important research by others, and generally continue to make the case for equality every chance we get.

While many of the immediate impacts of Covid-19 may be negative for women, its long-term legacy need not be. New, more flexible ways of working have become the norm, and we’ve seen a renewed appreciation for female-led professions, such as nurses and care workers, that are on the frontline of the fight against this virus. We must capitalise on progress wherever we see it and not let the mission for gender equality stall during this time.

To that end, the essays in this collection are intended to shine a light on the gendered impacts of this crisis and, crucially, explore solutions and ways forward.

The contributions touch on a range of issues – from women’s expertise and leadership, to girls’ education, workplace gender equality and more – all in the context of this pandemic.

Such a seismic event merits our full attention, and I’m glad we were able to dedicate this special edition of Essays on Equality to looking at what it means for women.

I hope you find these essays enlightening and informative. If you’d like to pick up any of the themes here, or have any other thoughts, please do get in touch with the GIWL team:

Julia Gillard