Reports Reveal Disproportionate Impact on Women Amid Pandemic

Earlier this year, to stay focused on its own sustainable development goals, Facebook announced Project 17, an initiative that takes a partnership approach to driving progress on the global goals, starting with gender equality. “To tackle the problem of gender inequality, you need to understand it,” said Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. “For too long there has simply been too little data available.” The report’s authors further said they hope their work can start to fill in the blanks.

The two Facebook reports aim to shed light on the ways COVID-19 has revealed gender inequality and the economic impact to inform where help is needed and action can be taken.

The first report looks at a survey on gender inequality at home, in partnership with the World Bank Group, U.N. Women, Ladysmith and EqualMeasures2030. The survey had 460,000 respondents on Facebook in more than 200 countries and territories. The second report, Facebook’s fourth Global State of Small Business, looks at proprietary data collection in collaboration with the OECD and the World Bank and surveys 25,000 small and medium-sized businesses across more than 50 countries.

“The pandemic has hit small businesses hard — but it has hit female-run businesses and business owners the hardest,” said Sandberg. Female-led businesses have been more likely to close during the crisis, and many women are juggling long hours just to keep their family and business afloat. To tackle these problems, we need to understand them, and for too long there has simply been too little data available. We hope these reports, and others like them, can start to fill in the blanks so that meaningful action can be taken to address the imbalances in our societies.” 

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According to Facebook’s findings, female-led small and medium-sized businesses were more likely than male-led SMBs to report that they closed, even taking into account factors including the size of the business, sector and geography.

At the same time, 24 percent of female business leaders identified caring for household members as an area for further policy support, compared to 18 percent of male business leaders. Notably, 23 percent of all female business leaders state that they spent six hours or more per day on domestic responsibilities, compared to only 11 percent of men.

Additionally, Facebook’s survey found that women consistently report earning less than men and that they are dependent on someone else financially. A quarter of the women surveyed said they are concerned about the future of their jobs and that they spend more time on unpaid care and domestic work due to the pandemic.

According to the authors of the Gender Equality at Home Report, the overall findings open up pathways for further research to be done and potential new lines of inquiry to pursue.

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