UN Women research finds COVID-19 pandemic has different socioeconomic impacts for women and men

UN Women recently published the findings of a research on the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on women and men. The research focuses on the impact of the pandemic on working life and the distribution of housework and care responsibilities during the pandemic.

Commissioned by UN Women Turkey, Rapid Gender Assessment of COVID-19 Implication in Turkey research presents the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the working and domestic life of women and men. According to the research, the coronavirus outbreak is having significant adverse effects, impacting women and men in varied ways based on their gender, location and age among other factors.

The research gathered data on various indicators to measure the relative change in daily lives since the onset of COVID-19. The research was conducted between 18 – 25 April 2020 based on a telephone-based survey among nationally representative sample of 759 women and 749 men by SAM Araştırma Danışmanlık. 51% of female respondents are married while 37% are single. For male respondents, 63.6% are married while 32% are single. 30% of respondents have children under 18 years of age.

The rapid gender assessment was conducted with the financial contribution of Sweden through Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on working life

Women’s economic security has been hit hard, impacting employment and income. Women and men from all walks of life and age groups have been affected by employment loss, income loss and a reduction in paid working hours.  18.8% of female respondents who were gainfully employed prior to the pandemic stated that they have lost their jobs; while the rate is 14.4% among male respondents. There is a wider gap between self-employed men and women who lost their businesses; 26.9% of women lost their businesses while this ratio was 16% for men. Among those surveyed who own a business and employ other people, 18.8% of the female respondents and 8.7% of the male respondents stated a job loss. 46% of women stated that the working hours devoted to paid work have been decreased, while this ratio was 57.1% for men.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, among wage-employees, one third of females and one quarter of male respondents reported that they have taken a leave from work. 15.7% of the all wage employee females have taken unpaid leave, while among male the rate is 11.2%.

Majority of respondents (83.2%) stated that they continued to leave home for work after the outbreak and more male respondents (85.1%) left home for work than female respondents (80.3%). 18% of female respondents said they started working from home while among male respondents the rate is 14.2%.

The research show that the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened already existing gender inequalities between women and men in the working life, such as lower female employment rate and lower representation among business owners.

Women shoulder most of the housework and care responsibilities

The majority of both women and men have stated that after the outbreak of the pandemic their domestic and care responsibilities at home have increased significantly. However, women express an increase to a larger degree across all categories of unpaid care work in comparison with male respondents and before COVID-19 outbreak. 77.6% and 59.9% of female respondents stated that their workload has increased in “cleaning (the household and washing the clothes)” and “cooking and serving meal” categories respectively, comparing to 47% and 23.9% of the male respondents reporting increase in these household chores. The most time-consuming housework and care responsibilities are as follows: cleaning, shopping, cooking, repair and household management, caring for children, assisting the elderly.

35.2% of the female respondents have stated that their partners started helping with the house and care work after the outbreak of COVID-19 while the rate among the male respondents is 36.4%.

The research has found out that a significant portion of male respondents did not do some of the house and care work “under normal circumstances” either. 40.7% of male respondents stated that they do not cook while 25.5% stated that they do not clean.

Emotional and psychological impacts of COVID-19

The research also shows the negative emotional and psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and men. 54% of female respondents and 49% of male respondents stated that they have started experiencing stress and anxiety with the outbreak of the pandemic. A majority of respondents in Istanbul (96.5%) stated that their emotional and psychological health have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Respondents living in the Northeast Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Aegean and Western Anatolia have stated that their emotional and psychological health also have been negatively affected due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Commenting on the research, UN Women Turkey Country Director Asya Varbanova stated that the research has been conducted in the Europe and Central Asia region in 16 countries including Turkey. Varbanova stated “COVID-19 is not only a health pandemic, it also has huge economic and social consequences for women and men. Conducted in April, this research reveals the immediate effects of the pandemic. Among other things, it shows that it has exacerbated women’s already disadvantaged position in the labour market. A significant number of women have lost their jobs and their domestic and care work responsibilities, already significant in the pre-COVID19 period, have further increased. We hope the research will be used to inform and support gender sensitive response and recovery measures that take into account the different needs, capacities and coping strategies of women and men during and after crises, such as the current pandemic.

You may find the research, executive summary and infographics here:


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United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women