The impact of COVID-19 on women’s and men’s lives and livelihoods – a gender assessment

The impact of COVID-19: Gender assessments in Europe and Central Asia reveal pandemic’s devastating impact on women

Reported by UN Women on 21 July 2020

On the heels of the pandemic, the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia conducted a rapid gender assessment to effectively and accurately evaluate the gendered impacts of COVID-19. The survey, which was conducted between April and May 2020, reveals a troubling situation – in Central Asia, three out of every five women reported a higher risk of not being able to access health services. A decrease in the paid working hours of women was observed across all countries/territories[1] ranging from 31 per cent in Georgia to 65 per cent in Kosovo[2]. Decreased earnings for women ranged from 15 per cent in North Macedonia to 52 per cent in Turkey. An alarming proportion of women (60 per cent) reported that it will be difficult to maintain basic expenses, such as rent and utilities, if restrictive measures continue.

As women’s economic security has been shaken, the COVID-19 crisis has also disproportionately affected their mental and emotional health. The most probable reason is the increased burden of unpaid domestic and care work, compounded by financial distress. Data shows that women’s psychological and mental health is being affected at higher rates than that of men, with worryingly high proportions seen among women in Albania (69 per cent), Kazakhstan (52 per cent), Turkey (54 per cent) and the Republic of Moldova (49 per cent).

The gender assessment exposed the prevalence of the shadow pandemic of violence against women. According to the survey, a considerable number of women (and men) reported having felt/heard of increases in domestic violence and discrimination. It is also concerning that the share of women who did not know where to seek help in cases of domestic violence ranges from around 20% in Turkey to at least 40% in Kyrgyzstan.

Overall, the findings reveal that women across the region are experiencing increased vulnerabilities and suffering from a multitude of problems due to COVID-19, with the greatest impact seen among women and girls in vulnerable domestic and economic situations.

“The pandemic undoubtedly had a profound social and economic impact on everyone, but the preliminary results of our rapid survey in the region exposed particular threats to women’s lives and livelihoods. The pre-existing discrimination and inequalities that women and girls faced before the pandemic became starkly exposed in the face of lockdowns and restrictive measures. We hope that the survey findings will inform, guide and support the response planning in the region and help countries to address the gendered impact of the pandemic.” said Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

In response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the relatively limited data available, the UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, through the Making Every Woman and Girl Count global programme, developed a rapid survey assessment tool to assess the gendered impacts of COVID-19 on the main challenges faced by on women and men lives and livelihoods. The rapid gender assessment survey findings are intended to be used by countries/territories to inform, guide and support response planning and address the gendered impact of the pandemic. Furthermore, it is intended to identify gender gaps in the ongoing response and to serve as a baseline assessment for faster and more gender-sensitive interventions if future outbreaks happen. 

The rapid gender assessment survey was rolled out between April and June 2020 in 16 countries/territories across the region. This report draws on the rapid gender assessment data collected in 10 countries/territories in the region: Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo[1], Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, North Macedonia and Turkey – which represent the three subregions of the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. A more comprehensive analysis on gender equality, encompassing data from all 16 ECA countries/territories, will follow whenever data is available.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Resident Coordinators among other partners supported the rapid gender assessment in several countries/territories across the region. Data collection at the country/territory level was also made possible through the generous support of the Governments of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the European Union.

[1] All references to Kosovo on this website should be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).

View online/download

Publication in full (PDF, 2,592 KB)
Albania factsheet (PDF, 103 KB)
Azerbaijan factsheet (PDF, 118 KB)
Bosnia and Herzegovina factsheet (PDF, 91 KB) 
Georgia factsheet (PDF, 100 KB)
Kazakhstan factsheet (PDF, 112 KB) 
Kosovo factsheet (PDF, 118 KB)
Kyrgyzstan factsheet (PDF, 125 KB)
Moldova factsheet (PDF, 93 KB)
North Macedonia factsheet (PDF, 97 KB) 
Turkey factsheet (PDF, 92 KB)

Get involved

Share This