The corona pandemic no longer has Switzerland under control. The measures have been lifted and everyday life is slowly but surely back on track. Although there is a risk of another pandemic wave in the fall, as Moderna chief physician Paul Burton (53) warns in a Blick interview, there is hardly any evidence of this among the population at the moment.
The Federal Commission for Women’s Issues (EKF) has looked back on almost two years of pandemic policy and had a gender analysis drawn up by the Bass Studies Office.
This concludes: Switzerland has mastered the corona crisis well overall so far, but the handling of the pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities between the sexes – to the detriment of women.
Mothers suffered especially
The corona pandemic threatened to increase inequalities between women and men right from the start. In particular, the combination of working from home and school closures was at the expense of the mothers. Because the sudden home office obligation made it difficult to reconcile work and children. Because it was mainly the women who took on the additional childcare and had to reduce their workload accordingly.
However, the situation is different when all unpaid household chores are taken into account. During the first lockdown, men took on a slightly higher proportion of unpaid work than before the pandemic, the study finds. Especially among well-educated couples, the study found that men became more involved in housework and family chores during the pandemic.
Poor households affected
In general, the Bass study also found large differences within the group of women. Above all, women with low incomes, uncertain residence status or small part-time jobs were among the losers of the crisis.
For example, private household helpers – almost 90 percent of whom are female – were completely excluded from the Covid help. “They were not supported, but simply referred to unemployment insurance.”
The self-employed who did not reach a specified minimum income were also excluded from Covid aid. The study suggests that these were often also women who ran part-time hair and beauty salons.
Overall, the Bass study shows that the situation for low-income households has worsened. Unlike high earners, these had to struggle with income losses. And an above-average number of women live in poor households.
Damage was limited
It was in January 2021, when the unemployment rate peaked for both sexes, that the gender gap was greatest.
The authors of the study explain this, among other things, with the strong impact on the hospitality industry: “It can be assumed that the irregular and often paid hourly wages of women were the first to disappear.”
Compared to other countries, however, Switzerland is in a privileged situation due to its good economic situation. That also helps the weaker in the system, which includes many women. Also because the school and day-care center closures in Switzerland were only short-lived, according to the study, the damage to mothers was limited.
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How can we become more resilient to future crises? An SFAO working group derived recommendations from the findings of the analysis. Basically, the following applies: “Strengthen the resilience of the economy and society with more equality.”
It is therefore urgently necessary, on the one hand, to strengthen the social position of women in general and, on the other hand, to enable men to take on a larger part of housework and family work. (SDA/lm)