COVID-19 is affecting our lives. Although in Sweden there are not as many restrictions as in other countries, we all have seen our daily routines affected. But, how is the pandemic affecting women?
Sweden is the only country in Europe where a lockdown has not been decreed. However, the impact of COVID-19 in our lives is noticeable: social distance, online lessons, or the recent online celebration of Valborg are some examples. The crisis has a bigger impact on some groups than on others and, although the virus does not make distinctions between sexes to decide who to infect, the effects of this pandemic do.
Last year, Sweden ranks the first country in the European Union on the Gender Equality Index with 83,6 out of 100 points. However, COVID-19 reveals some situations in which women and men experience differences.
In which sense is the virus affecting more women?
- Healthcare services are the most exposed to the virus. Nurses are the ones spending more time with people in hospitals. In Sweden, 88% of the nurses are women (rising the percentage to 90% in some communities). This generates a bigger exposition to the virus and the risk of contagion in the case of women
- Another example of the struggles women face is the increase in difficulties to combine work and family life. Sweden has a great education system and schools have not been closed during the corona crisis. However, many parents have preferred their children to stay at home to avoid any risk. This increases difficulties, especially for those single-parents who need to work but are alone to take care of their children. In Sweden, 84% of single-parents are women. Consequently, they are one of the groups with more complications to deal with working from home and take care of the family.
- One of the biggest worries about how the pandemic affects women is its influence in gender-based violence victims. In Sweden, the Minister for Gender Equality has pointed out that COVID-19 makes children and women particularly vulnerable. Due to the pandemic, 33% of swedes work from home to avoid the spread of the virus. This has increased the risk of suffering for those living with a violent person. Additionally, and although Swedish services work intensively to guarantee women’s protection, different international organizations are worried about the possible decrease of violence reports. As women are not by themselves as much as before, victims have more difficulties to report their situation.
What can I do?
As pointed above, Coronavirus is changing our lives. Unfortunately, some groups are more vulnerable than others to the effects of the pandemic. Because of that, solidarity, support and help are key aspects for going through this pandemic. In many neighbourhoods, people offer to babysit children to help those who still need to go to work. Besides, some young people offer to do the shopping for elders.
All these acts are fundamental to help everyone to be the less affected possible by the pandemic and to support the decrease of inequality.