The “sex, gender and covid-19 project” launches this morning, which describes itself as “the world’s most comprehensive dashboard for covid-19 data broken down by sex and gender”. The dashboard allows you to look at the specifics of different countries and compare across countries, and across time. It makes for some interesting reading.
Of the 173 countries in the dashboard, Scotland has the second most number of confirmed cases which are female, at 61 per cent. Presumably women are more likely to get tested than men here, whereas in Qatar less than 10 per cent of confirmed cases are female. Over 70 per cent of ICU admissions in Scotland are male, even though there are more female hospitalisations for covid-19 than men. That speaks to the general trend worldwide of the lethality of covid-19 being greater among men than women. However, in total, more females than males have died from covid-19 in Scotland, with women making up 51 per cent of all covid-19 deaths.
This is likely to be explained by the fact that women in general live longer than men, so there is a greater elderly population of females who can contract covid-19. While more males between the age of 75-84 in Scotland have had covid-19 than females, there are significantly more female 85+ cases than male. A huge 67 per cent of residents in care homes in Scotland – the source of almost half of all covid-19 deaths in the country – are female, while there are three times as many female care home residents who are aged 85+ than male. We have written on Source Direct many times since this crisis began about how social care workers at the coalface of this crisis are overwhelmingly female, but so are social care residents.
Scotland is relatively unusual on a global scale in having more female than male deaths from Covid-19, with only eight countries on the dashboard having a higher % of deaths among females. Curiously, there is some differentiation within the UK on this statistic: Northern Ireland has 48 per cent female deaths, Wales 44 per cent, and England 43 per cent. Why there is a difference is not obvious, but it is something that should be explored.
While the dashboard focuses on cases and mortality, there are of course many other crucial issues in which gender inequalities and covid-19 combine. Worldwide, mortality rates are higher for men than women, but it is women who face the harshest social and economic impact. Whether it is in increased unpaid care responsibilities, the rise in domestic abuse or the impact of family pressures on home-working, the elevated role of the home in a lockdown world has multiple negative consequences for women in particular. The IFS has found mothers in the UK are 1.5 times as likely to have either resigned or been sacked during lockdown as fathers.
In countries in the global south, the problems are even greater: it’s estimated that 9.5 million women and girls haven’t been able to access contraception and safe abortion services during lockdown, while three-quarters of informal work in the global south – much of which disappeared during lockdown with zero social protections – is done by women.
“When you are thinking about a pandemic, you have to differentiate between what comes from being infected and what comes from being affected,” Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at LSE has said, adding: “If governments are truly committed to doing something about gender inequality, they can do so, regardless of what else they have to deal with”.
Source Direct is a free morning newsletter providing you with all the latest Scottish news in your inbox each morning, including:
- Analysis of the key stories
- A summary of what’s in the Scottish papers
- The latest on Source
- Interesting opinion pieces from around Scottish media
To sign-up for Source Direct, click here.