9 December 2020

Report calls for more attention to gender aspects of COVID-19 epidemic

Review

Using Denmark as case study, the Coordination for Gender Research has published a literature review that gathers insights and practice from the first months of the corona epidemic.

Photo: Colourbox
Photo: Colourbox

The impact of epidemics and global health crises often differ between men and women. This is also the case with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from the Coordination for Gender Research at the University of Copenhagen, ‘Gender and the COVID-19 outbreak’, concludes.

The report takes the form of a literature review with Denmark as case study gathering insights about the epidemic from a gender perspective and pointing to a number of political and research challenges. The review includes a variety of sources, from COVID-19-related reports and political recommendations published by international organisations to Danish authorities' key figures and strategies, as well as journalistic and scientific articles.

Although the review was conducted in April-May 2020 during the first wave of the epidemic, it shows some significant trends, challenges and derived research questions, among which are:

  • The death rate for men has been higher both in Denmark and in other countries. How can the exposure of certain groups of men to Coronavirus be addressed in current and future health strategies?
  • The risk of infection is also higher for primary care staff, such as nurses and social and health workers. In Denmark, for example, 85% of primary care staff are women. How is this connected to young women in Denmark registering more as being infected?
  • The everyday lives of women and men may be affected differently. How have women’s greater caring and household responsibilities in ‘normal’ times been changed?
  • Violence against women tends to increase in times of emergency, including during epidemics. The increase in family violence in the current epidemic has become an issue that tends to affect women disproportionately.

According to Associate Professor Hilda Rømer Christensen, who is behind the publication along with master’s student Stine Petersen, the overall picture is clear:

“In Denmark, the Danish government has chosen to extend most coronavirus guidelines and strategies to the entire population. Our review shows that it is crucial to be aware of gender differences and include them in line with other socio-economic and cultural conditions. This applies to both future research and the government’s preventive efforts against COVID-19 and other epidemics.”

Although the new publication focuses primarily on existing knowledge and the mapping of challenges, it also refers to a number of specific recommendations from international organisations and networks, including the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and Women Deliver.

In line with the report, they both call for greater attention on how the impact of the corona crisis varies across gender, and the structural conditions that reinforce such inequalities.

Download and read the report: Gender and the COVID-19 outbreak – A Literature Review of Coronavirus-related knowledge and practices. Denmark as a case study