COVID response: Gender equality

Evidence from past epidemics shows that gender-based inequalities determine how women´s and men’s health, economic equality, security and safety are affected during and after the crisis. Understanding the gender-differentiated impacts of disease outbreaks is fundamental to creating effective, equitable policies and interventions that leave no one behind.

Women in Moldova already face disproportionate challenges in terms of employment, which will only worsen with the pandemic. In Moldova, women earn on average 14.4 percent less than men in formal jobs. For many, their work is informal and part-time, lacking social protection, insurance coverage and access to healthcare. Many women risk losing their jobs or seeing their wages decrease because of increasing domestic burden and unpaid care work.

Women-led small and medium businesses, often lacking social safety nets and savings, are also expected to face greater challenges in accessing credit and support for rebuilding their own business. The pandemic could intensify economic dis-empowerment of women and increase gender gaps in employment. We are assessing the extent of these impacts and supporting the government to formulate tailored policies.

In Moldova, one in four women experience physical and/or psychological violence, mostly from their partners. During COVID-19, gender-based violence has increased due to restrictions of movements, lockdowns and quarantines. We are supporting the government with a range of measures to combat violence against women and girls in the home, from raising awareness to strengthening police and social systems to providing immediate assistance to women’s shelters. Given the profoundly gendered impacts of the pandemic, it is imperative to ensure equal participation in COVID-19 response. It is critical that women policymakers – in government, parliament, civil society and other sectors – shape policy and decisions.

Here's what we're doing:

  • UNDP offered grants to women from Gagauzia region, to start up their own business. The grants’ programme is part of a project on preventing gender-based violence, implemented by UNDP with the support of the Republic of Korea, initiated in 2018.
  • UNDP is assessing women groups from four districts of Moldova, Transnistrian and Gagauzian regions for environment-friendly and climate resilient business models to provide alternative income for their families. The effects of COVID-19 on women-led households and business will be also assessed and will inform the grants programme in terms of provision of relevant speedy recovery support and alternative livelihoods. 
  • UNDP donated personal protective equipment and sanitizers to local stakeholders in a partner community in Gagauz autonomy, where a safe space for gender-based violence survivors is being supported. Doctors, social workers and civil servants are in the first line, not only trying to mitigate the epidemic, but also to prevent gender-based violence. Most of the frontline workers are women. The equipment will ensure they are protected against COVID-19, including when assisting gender-based violence survivors.
  • UNDP Moldova brought women who participated in its political leadership trainings together in an online community, creating a new resource cadre for their villages and towns, as potential candidates for local councillors, mayors, MPs etc. The platform would contribute to enhancing women’s participation in elections and in politics.

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