Spotlight on gender, COVID-19 and the SDGs: Will the pandemic derail hard-won progress on gender equality?

Authors/editor(s): Ginette Azcona, Antra Bhatt, Sara Davies, Sophie Harman, Julia Smith, and Clare Wenham

COVID-19 has been declared a public health emergency of international concern and a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. This global threat to health security underscores the urgent need to accelerate progress on achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 and the need to massively scale up international cooperation to deliver on SDG 3. It also reveals what is less obvious, but no less urgent: how health emergencies such as COVID-19, and the response to them, can exacerbate gender inequality and derail hard-won progress not only on SDG 3 but on all the SDGs.

This paper presents the latest evidence on the gendered impact of the pandemic, highlights potential and emerging trends, and reflects on the long-term impact of the crisis on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The paper begins by presenting key facts and figures relating to the gendered impacts of COVID-19 followed by reflecting on the health impacts of COVID-19 on SDG 3 targets. Then, the paper explores the socioeconomic and political implications of COVID-19 on women and gender across five of the Goals: SDG 1 (poverty), 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth), and 10 (reduced inequalities).

The paper concludes by outlining policy priorities drawn from the evidence presented.

This paper is part of the “Spotlight on the SDGs” series.

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Bibliographic information

Subject area(s): 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentCOVID-19Gender equality and women’s empowermentGender statisticsHealthSex-disaggregated dataSexual and reproductive health and rightsSustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Resource type: Research papers

Series: Spotlight on the SDGs

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2020

Number of pages: 31

Publishing entities: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)

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