Financial Insecurity, Hunger, Mental Health are Top Concerns for Women Worldwide

Photo: Farida Dagnogo, 20 years old, owns her own restaurant in Côte d'Ivoire. Nadi Jessica/CARE

CARE International releases “She Told Us So: Rapid Gender Analysis - Closing the Data Gaps to Build Back Equal,” a comprehensive report featuring first person accounts of over 10,000 participant views of the unique challenges faced by women during COVID-19.

September 22, 2020CARE International today released first-of-its-kind research that reveals differing perspectives between men and women when it comes to the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Six months ago, CARE sounded the alarm that the global health crisis would only widen the gender gap and reverse decades of progress across women’s health, nutrition and economic stability,” Emily Janoch, Director of Knowledge Management at CARE and primary author of the report. “And after six months of listening to women and capturing their stories, our alarm bell is ringing louder than ever. Our data must be a call to action for the entire global community to mount a more effective and equitable response to COVID-19.”

Based on first person survey feedback from 6,200 women and 4,000 men in nearly 40 countries, women were more likely than men to report challenges across three (3) main areas:

  • Jobs: 55% of women reported that COVID-related income loss has had the biggest impact on them, compared to only 34% of men. Women are more likely to work as part of the informal sector, which COVID-19 is hitting the hardest, and have less access to unemployment benefits.
  • Lack of food: 41% of women and 30% of men reported not having enough food. This reflects deeply entrenched gender inequalities in local and global food systems. Women often eat least and last.
  • Mental Health: One of the most striking differences is around mental health, where 27% of women reported an increase in challenges associated with mental illness —compared to only 10% of men. Women especially point to skyrocketing unpaid care burdens as a source of this stress, in addition to worries about livelihoods, food, and health care. Women are also nearly twice as likely to report challenges to accessing quality health services.

This Rapid Gender Analysis data was collected using context-appropriate tools, including SMS surveys, WhatsApp and phone interviews and when safe in-person conversation. This real time, first person interaction allows CARE to move quickly and understand response gaps. The goal of this approach is not to elevate women’s concerns above men’s, but to make sure they are heard in the first place. 

“There is power in listening to women,” Janoch continued.  “These cumulative responses provide invaluable insights into how the humanitarian and development systems can further adapt their work to support a more effective and equitable COVID-19 response, while reinforcing the critical importance of understanding what women need, and how their experience is different from men.”

Read the report.