How Covid-19 Affects Women


Written by: Kelly Fisher


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The consequences and impacts of Covid-19 continue to unfold,  yet  one of the most troubling  trends to emerge  is the ways in which Covid-19 disproportionately impacts women. 

Specifically troubling are  the risks that most front-line health-care workers  are facing every day,  where globally women make up  7/10 of these types of workers.   

As the world continues to battle Covid-19,  we can see the many ways in which it has changed and challenged societies around the world.  The recent  development  around possible vaccines  are  great news for everyone, but the implications of this for front-line health-care workers is especially positive.    

The Vaccine – Friend or Foe 

Famed artist and philanthropist Dolly Parton donated $1 million to Moderna’s vaccine research. 

When I first began  writing this article, it was based off the news of Pfizer’s early analysis of their vaccine trials  which showed a 90% effectiveness rate.   This was incredible news, yet within the same week we learned that Moderna’s vaccine was showing signs to be 94.5% effective, and that Pfizer would  announce that theirs was  actually 95% effective.   This type of friendly competition is the kind that I can certainly get behind when it is about such important and positive news.  

However,  there are many  challenges that  relate to distributing these vaccines globally,  and  it is clear the complex task that will come with  getting  this  out  to the public.   

While there are different plans and strategies being developed, most of them  prioritize  vaccinating front-line health-care workers first.  This is important for many reasons, considering that front-line health-care workers exposure to Covid-19 means they get it at  higher rates.   This risk leads to a black cloud of stress overshadowing these important workers, and as mentioned earlier, a great demand on women globally since they make up the majority of  front-line health-care workers globally.    

Women Are Worse Off 

In some countries, women working in health care have been infected at twice the rate that  their male colleagues have been  as  a  UN Report highlights.   As the report discusses, this occurs both because of the gender division that exists between the types of work that men and women do in  health-care, but also because sometimes personal protective equipment has been designed for  men and doesn’t fit on women.   

While this data is troubling, it  underscores two important points, which point towards positive developments and news.  The first is the importance and need for collecting data that is gender disaggregated.   

Historically,  women have  been excluded in medical research, and this has led to many consequences.  There has been a great push  by  the UN and other agencies to make sure that data and information is being recorded about Covid-19’s specific impact on women, and this is crucial for understanding the  consequences of Covid-19  and  also  for  developing targeted and strategic policy responses.     

Health Workers 

The second important positive development is recognizing the implications that this vaccine has for the many women working in front-line health-care positions.  As someone who has many friends and family members working as nurses and doctors, I think of them often in these intense days we live in.  When I read about this vaccine, I found myself thinking of them and all other front-line health-care workers, and how I hope this vaccine is distributed to them soon.    

I also found myself realizing that I most likely will be among the last groups that receive this vaccine.  While this certainly isn’t the most exciting news, as someone who is a natural-born optimist, I try instead to focus on the positive side of things. Nowadays there is plenty of time to read books, and if you are looking for some reading inspiration, make sure you check out some of  our weekly book recommendations here on Insight Magazine.  •