Masked children at a mobile creche.
Children at a mobile creche in Greater Noida, India. A creche is a nursery that provides childcare while parents work. Photo: UN Women/Prashanth Vishwanathan.

In situations of social and economic instability, social protections provide a crucial safety net for those most affected. But before the pandemic, only 26.5% of the world’s women enjoyed comprehensive social protection by law (as compared to 34.3% of men). This has left women with little to fall back on in the face of illness, job loss, and increased care and domestic burdens.

What can governments do?

  • Expand and invest in universal gender-responsive social protection, including income support, as well as contributory and non-contributory social protection systems to increase women’s resilience to future shocks.
  • Expand and invest in quality public services, including food and housing security programmes.
  • Support a robust care economy by providing universal healthcare and expanded affordable care services for children and older persons.
  • Strengthen social protection systems to cover all workers in formal and informal employment. Such protections should include paid sick and maternity leave, pensions and unemployment compensation.
  • Avoid austerity cuts (such as to welfare programs) that disproportionately target women and marginalized groups.

What is UN Women doing?

  • Providing key data and policy recommendations to help governments address gender disparities in national pandemic relief and social protection schemes.
  • Mobilizing essential supplies to bridge gaps in emergency relief services, including:
  • In partnership with ILO, administering the Safe and Fair programme, which aims to strengthen labour migration governance and protect the rights of women migrant workers in the Asia-Pacific region.