Volume XXIII

Discrimination Against Women: Under the Magnifying Glass of COVID

by Fatemah Albader

The current pandemic has resulted in an exacerbation of negative inequalities faced by women at more alarming rates than men. As resources become strained, women have witnessed deepened difficulties in basic access to healthcare. Moreover, there has been a rise in gender-based violence across the international community. In October 2021, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet issued a press statement that COVID has led to a widening of the gap of inequalities. She called for a “New Social Contract,” one that would ensure basic human rights during and after this crisis, including the fulfilment of the right of healthcare and the right to be free from non-discrimination. These deep-rooted disparities are not a new occurrence and have existed well before COVID but have come to light given recent State policies used to combat the disease.
This article seeks to consider the potential international law violations under the various international law conventions concerning three gendered impacts: caused by the disease outbreak: (1) unequal access to healthcare, (2) workplace and education inequality, and (3) gender-based violence. In considering these gendered impacts, this article will discuss some of the ways to incorporate a gender analysis into state policies to improve response efforts and bridge the gap of inequality among men and women during current and future disease outbreaks and other emergencies.

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