In the last year we have experienced unprecedented social transformations marked by uncertainty, but also by collective efforts to overcome the current economic and health crisis. Although all of us have been affected by the crisis, we were not impacted in the same way or to the same magnitude. There is no doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities between women and men in almost all areas of life, in Peru and worldwide, reversing hard-won achievements in closing gaps and gender equality in recent years.
The unpaid care work performed by women, as well as the unequal division of labor in households, has deepened as a result of the measures taken in response to COVID-19, which have led to the closure of schools, public spaces, and care services. Furthermore, various reports reveal that the risk of all types of gender-based violence against girls and women, especially domestic violence, has increased.
This context poses a threat to women’s participation in economic activities, even more so if we consider that they are more likely to participate in informal economic activities, which represent 67.7% of our economic structure. These disparities are even more pronounced for women belonging to vulnerable populations and for those belonging to ethnic groups, migrants, and refugees, who have even higher rates of participation in the informal or independent labor force.
In a complementary way, measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have accelerated the speed of the employment and education digitization. However, this accelerated rate of migration to digital platforms runs the risk of deepening existing gender inequalities, especially when they are not accompanied by viable strategies for digital inclusion with a gender perspective.
It is also important to highlight that the response efforts against COVID-19 have had several women as protagonists in the first line of response and essential services. Women represent 74% of the global workforce in the health sector and are more likely to be part of the health personnel in the first line of response, especially nurses, midwives, and community health workers. Similarly, they represent the majority of service personnel in health facilities (such as cleaning, laundry, and food service personnel) and, as such, they are more exposed to the virus. At CARE Peru, we remain committed to integrating meaningful and transformative actions to overcome inequalities. Through various interventions, throughout the cycle of our programs we seek to 1) enhance the autonomy and agency of girls and women, strengthening their soft, educational, and productive skills; 2) address the differentiated impacts of gender roles and mandates, and 3) transform those structures to achieve a more egalitarian society that recognizes the power and importance of women’s voices and leadership. All these have been reflected in the improvement of the report of our Gender Marker, in the initiatives in progress and in those conceived within the context of crisis to respond to the differentiated impacts.