Gender, care and labour

COVID-19 has differential impacts on socioeconomic life likely to further exasperate long-lasting intersectional gender inequalities in care and the labour market. This is why this WP will focus on new data, ideas and policy responses to gender, care and labour.

1. Working and Caring from Home: Working remotely from home and carrying out computer-enabled tasks has been beneficial from a public health perspective, but raises multiple challenges with regards to labour, care and the equal sharing of household tasks and responsibilities between sexes. On the one hand, work-life balance issues come to the forefront as public or private service providers (including day care centres, kindergartens, schools, nursing homes, or migrant domestic workers and carers) are no longer available to assist. Simultaneously, telework from home also increases the risk of being forced to be available to work and be reachable anytime.

2. Precarious sectors of labour: The socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 is related to the increasing vulnerability of precarious workers during times of crisis as they often find themselves without protection against dismissals, discrimination, refusals or delays of payment, excessive demands threatening their health. Although many women working in precarious feminised and racialised sectors -most notably cleaning, nursing and care work- have become essential for the survival of societies during COVID-19, they continue to face labour insecurity, low payment, uncertain labour status and lack of legal and social protection.

3. Post-coronavirus labour markets and societies: Due to the coronavirus crisis, there is rising public awareness of the need to recognise the value of workers in low paid precarious feminised sectors, such as nursing, cleaning, care and platform work. The daily celebration of essential workers in several European countries during the lock-down were manifestations of the ways in which previously unrecognised and undervalued mostly female workers were valued and recognised for their contribution to the public good.. However, it is not clear yet how public awareness is going to be translated into actual changes that will transform labour markets and public perceptions of women and feminised sectors of employment. The future of gender equality is crucial given the prognosis for a deep global recession, rising unemployment and increasing precarisation.