The Guardian view on women and the pandemic: what happened to building back better? | Editorial

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Around the world, coronavirus has both highlighted and worsened existing inequalities

One year into the pandemic, women have little cause to celebrate International Women’s Day tomorrow, and less energy to battle for change. Men are more likely to die from Covid-19. But women have suffered the greatest economic and social blows. They have taken the brunt of increased caregiving, have been more likely to lose their jobs and have seen a sharp rise in domestic abuse.

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In the UK, women did two-thirds of the extra childcare in the first lockdown, and were more likely to be furloughed. In the US, every one of the 140,000 jobs lost in December belonged to a woman: they saw 156,000 jobs disappear, while men gained 16,000. But white women actually made gains, while black and Latina women – disproportionately in jobs that offer no sick pay and little flexibility – lost out. Race, wealth, disability and migration status have all determined who is hit hardest. Previous experience suggests that the effects of health crises can be long-lasting: in Sierra Leone, over a year after Ebola broke out, 63% of men had returned to work but only 17% of women.

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