The shadow pandemic: Inequitable gendered impacts of COVID-19 in South Africa

Gend Work Organ. 2021 Mar;28(2):795-806. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12565. Epub 2020 Oct 30.


On March 11, 2020, the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Disease, or COVID-19, was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). As its effects roll through societies and economies across the globe, women are expected to bear the heaviest impact. Unfortunately, despite gender-focused reporting on the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, few government policies and public health efforts have explicitly addressed the gendered impacts of the pandemic. This academic review paper presents literature, from both academic and media sources, on the early effects of the COVID-19 crisis on women, specifically within the South African context. Preliminary research and reporting of the effects of COVID-19 on the South African population indicate that inequitable gendered practices negatively impact women in the general economy, the workplace, and the home. These settings are discussed in this article, along with recommendations to ameliorate the lived experiences of South African women.

Keywords: COVID‐19; South Africa; gendered; inequitable.