Gender and COVID-19 Reading List

Woman Reading

The Women and the Law Program’s Gender and COVID-19 Reading List highlights voices across a range of disciplines and from all over the world. What they all have in common is that the authors are pushing to understand the intersecting roles of gender, race, class, and disability in our responses to the COVID-19 crisis and the attendant economic devastation.  To make what will become a long list easier to navigate, we’ve organized it into five broad categories:  Cross-Cutting Analyses; Paid and Unpaid Carework; Gender-based Violence; Political Economy; Sexual and Reproductive Health; and Women’s Leadership & Political Participation. Please help us build out this list by sending proposed additions to

With gratitude,

The Women and the Law Program at American University Washington College of Law.

Compiled by Daniela Kraiem, Director, The Women and the Law Program. Updated on June 11th, 2020.

cRoss-cutting analyses

Bahman, Salonee, Rachel Kuo, Matilda Sabal, Vivian Shaw, and Tiffany Diane Tso, eds. Asian American Feminist Antibodies {Care in the Time of Coronavirus}. Vol. 3. Asian American Feminist Collective and Bluestockings NYC. Accessed May 26, 2020. Full length Zine with stories, essays, and artwork exploring the COVID-19 crisis through “long-standing practices of care that come out of Asian American histories and politics.”

Buvinic, Mayra, Lorenz Noe, and Eric Swanson. “Tracking the Gender Impact of COVID-19.” Center For Global Development (blog), May 27, 2020. Preliminary assessment of data gaps that affect ability of major institutions to respond to the gendered impacts COVID-19 crisis.

Essence Insights. “‘Impact Of COVID-19 On Black Women’ Study.” Essence, May 14, 2020. Report on survey of Black women in the United States regarding impact of COVID-19 on health and finances in April 2020, finding negative impacts on health, children’s education, and finances.

Goldberg, Suzanne. “Covid-19 and LGBT Rights.” In Law in the Time of Covid. Columbia Law School, 2020. Overview of how transphobia and homophobia, combined with other forms of discrimination, will amplify health and legal risks LGBT people face during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. “Building Bridges, Not Walking on Backs:  A Feminist Economic Recovery Plan for COVID-19.” Hawai?i State Commission on the Status of Women and Department of Human Services of the State of Hawai?i, April 14, 2020. Detailed outline of economic recovery plan designed by Hawai’i Commission on Status of Women, advocating for centering of carework and social reproduction, move away from military and tourist-based industry, and increasing role of midwifery.

Loxton, Deborah, Peta Forder, Natalie Townsend, Clare Thomson, Gita Mishra, Leigh Tooth, Julie Byles, Anna Graves, Katherine Tuckerman, and Ryan Tuckerman. “ALSWH COVID-19 Survey Report 1: Survey 1, 29 April 2020.” ALSWH COVID-19 Survey. Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, April 29, 2020. Preliminary results from snapshot survey of Australian women taken during lockdown phase, assessing impacts of COVID-19 on physical and mental health and financial well-being.

McRae, Amanda. “COVID-19 at the Intersection of Gender and Disability.” Women Enabled, May 2020. Results of a survey of women with disabilities regarding healthcare, violence, support services, income, and education, conducted in March-April 2020.  Includes recommendations to States, U.N. agencies, healthcare systems, and violence service providers about how to ensure that issues at the intersection of gender and disability are included in COVID-19.

Organization of American States. “COVID-19 in Women’s Lives: Reasons to Recognize the Differential Impacts.” Organization of American States, InterAmerican Commission on Women, 2020. Comprehensive overview of differential impacts of COVID-19 on women in the Americas.

Schalatek, Liane. “The Invisible Coronavirus Makes Systemic Gender Inequalities and Injustices Visible.” Heinrich Böll Stiftung, April 30, 2020. Comprehensive overview of gendered impacts of COVID-19 crisis, including effects on women migrant workers.

Paid and Unpaid Carework

Battyany, Karina. “The Covid-19 Pandemic Reveals and Exacerbates the Crisis of Care.” OpenDemocracy (blog), April 13, 2020.   Argues that COVID-19 reveals how care, not the market, is the central organizing axis of community life.

Becker, Amanda. “The Pandemic Upended Child Care. It Could Be Devastating for Working Women.” Washington Post, May 20, 2020. Article describing finding that up to one-half of child care centers may not reopen in the US in the wake of COVID-19, with financially devastating results for early childhood educators and for women who need child care in order to participate in the paid labor force.

Carlson, Daniel, Richard Petts, and Joanna Pepin. “Men and Women Agree: During the COVID-19 Pandemic Men Are Doing More at Home.” Council on Contemporary Families, May 20, 2020.  An optimistic take on survey finding that men are increasing the amount of housework they perform during lockdowns, suggesting that this could have a positive lasting impact on the household division of labor.

Folbre, Nancy. “Are We All Care Workers Now?” Care Talk (blog), April 4, 2020.  Folbre, a leading expert on the political economy of care, discusses how the crisis has prompted her to reconsider her definition of “carework.”

Matthews, Hannah, and Katherine Gallagher Robbins. “Policymaking Principles for Supporting Child Care and Early Education Through the Coronavirus Crisis.” CLASP, March 18, 2020. Covers how COVID-19-19 affects child care and early childhood centers, and calls for policymakers to focus on the health, safety, and economic security of educators.

Meyer, Madonna Harrington. “Issue Brief: Grandmothers at Work during Coronavirus.” Lerner Center for Health Promotion, May 1, 2020. Issue brief highlighting how COVID-19 is accelerating an already growing trend toward “intensification” of grandmothering, with more working grandmothers also providing care for grandchildren who are out of school and child care due to the crisis.

Peng, Ito, and Maria Floro. “COVID-19 Is Testing the Norm: Gender Dynamics and Care in the Midst of the Pandemic.” Carework and the Economy (blog), April 29, 2020. Blog post positing that the COVID-19 crisis exposes the complex and often overlooked “mixed economy” of paid and unpaid care.

Rao, Smirti. “Lessons from the Coronavirus: The Socialization of Care Work Is Not ‘Just’ a Women’s Issue.” International Development Economic Associates (blog), April 7, 2020. Highlights the need for state support of the “labor of social reproduction” during the COVID-19 crisis in India.

True, Sarah, Gary Claxton, Priya Chidambaram, and Kendal Orgera. “COVID-19 and Workers at Risk: Examining the Long-Term Care Workforce.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (blog), April 23, 2020. Report details the demographics of the long-term care workforce, which is largely made up of low-income women of color.  These vital workers are underpaid and often work in precarious employment.

Gender-based Violence

Bettinger-Lopez, Caroline, and Alexandra Bro. “A Double Pandemic: Domestic Violence in the Age of COVID-19.” Council on Foreign Relations (blog), May 13, 2020. Blog post outlining double pandemic of COVID-19 and gender-based violence, and calling for the incorporation of gender and human rights perspectives into COVID-19 responses.

Berger, Miriam. “Measures to Control the Spread of Coronavirus Are a Nightmare for Victims of Domestic Violence. Advocates Are Demanding Governments Step Up.” Washington Post, April 1, 2020. . Newspaper article provides an overview of how social distancing endangers survivors experiencing domestic violence worldwide.

UN Women. “Issue Brief: Covid-19 and Ending Violence Against Women and Girls.” UN Women, April 2020. Issue brief provides an overview of violence against women and girls and makes policy recommendations for how states can address this “shadow pandemic” during the COVID-19 crisis.

Political Economy

Alon, Titan, Matthias Doepke, Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, and Michèle Tertilt. “The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality.” NBER, April 2020. Prepublished paper noting that economic downturn likely to have harsher impact in female-dominated industries such as education and hospitality than previous recessions.  Speculates that men’s increased involvement in child care and increased employer flexibility in white-collar professions might lead to greater equality in the future.

Ananat, Elizabeth, and Anna Gassman-Pines. “Snapshot of the COVID Crisis Impact on Working Families.” EconoFact (blog), March 30, 2020. Blog post analyzing data on hourly service workers; finding COVID-19 has already led to drastic reductions in work hours, income, family well-being, and mental health.

Benfer, Emily, and Lindsay Wiley. “Health Justice Strategies To Combat COVID-19: Protecting Vulnerable Communities During A Pandemic.” Health Affairs, March 19, 2020. Article addressing concrete actions US officials can take to ameliorate economic and health effects of COVID-19 on low-income households, many of which are headed by women.

Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams, et al. Under the Blacklight | COVID-19. African American Policy Forum, Ongoing. Series of in-depth webinar conversations produced by the African American Policy Forum addressing the intersectional dimensions of structural disparities exposed by COVID-19.

Folbre, Nancy. “The Care Theory of Value.” Care Talk (blog), April 8, 2020. Blog post explaining how market under or devaluation of things we cannot easily measure (like care) make it difficult for workers in those professions to press for better wages and working conditions.

Horsley, Scott. “Women Are Losing More Jobs In Coronavirus Shutdowns.” Morning Edition. National Public Radio, April 8, 2020. Noting that female-dominated industries were first to experience COVID-19 layoffs, with 60% of the initial wave of claims coming from women.

Kinyanjui, Njeri. “How the COVID-19 Pandemic Will Affect Informal Workers. Insights from Kenya.” Medium. The Conversation (blog), March 22, 2020. Interview with advocate who describes how COVID-19 could impact Kenya’s informal laborers, many of whom are women working in markets.

Pangborn, Nicole, and Christopher Rea. “Race, Gender, and New Essential Workers during COVID-19.” Contexts (blog), April 16, 2020. Blog post breaks down the demographics of which workers can telecommute, which are deemed essential, and which are likely to experience exposure in the course of their work, noting significant differences along race, class, and gender lines.

Rodrigues, Rafaela, and Orloff Leslye. “Immigrant Crime Victim Access to Relief During the COVID-19 Crisis Under the CARES and FFCRA Acts (May 20, 2020).” National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project, May 20, 2020. Analysis of which public benefits immigrants may be eligible for under the CARES and FFCRA acts in the United States, with implications for female victims of crime, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

Ahmed, Zara, Ruth Dawson, Megan Donovan, Leah Keller, and Adam Sonfield. “Nine Things Congress Must Do to Safeguard Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Age of COVID-19.” Guttmacher Institute (blog), April 7, 2020. A list of actions the US Congress can take to protect and support sexual and reproductive health and rights in the US and worldwide.

Grossman, Joanna L., and Mary Ziegler. “Unconstitutional Chaos: Abortion in the Time of COVID-19.” Justia (blog), April 15, 2020. Rundown of COVID-19-related abortion cases in the US as of April 15, 2020.

Hall, Kelli Stidham, Goleen Samari, Samantha Garbers, Sara E. Casey, Dazon Dixon Diallo, Miriam Orcutt, Rachel T. Moresky, Micaela Elvira Martinez, and Terry McGovern. “Centring Sexual and Reproductive Health and Justice in the Global COVID-19 Response.” The Lancet 395, no. 10231 (April 11, 2020): 1175–77. Overview of sexual and reproductive health issues related to COVID-19.

Tang, Kun, Junjian Gaoshan, and Babatunde Ahonsi. “Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH): A Key Issue in the Emergency Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID- 19) Outbreak.” Reproductive Health 17, no. 1 (April 23, 2020): 59. Overview of issues in sexual and reproductive health related to COVID-19.

Todd-Gher, Jaime, and Payal K. Shah. “Abortion in the Context of COVID-19: A Human Rights Imperative.” Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters 28 (April 19, 2020): 1–4. Brief article arguing human rights law imposes non-derogable obligation on states to ensure abortion access, via telemedicine or other means during COVID-19 crisis.

Women's Leadership & Political Participation

Applegate, Meredith. “How to Protect Gender Equality in Elections During COVID-19.” International Foundation for Electoral Systems (blog), April 20, 2020.  Set of recommendations for protecting women’s political participation during the pandemic, including provisions for child care, ensuring online safety for female candidates, and collection of gender disaggregated data.

Fuchs Miller, Amanda. “Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Women Members of Congress in These Difficult Times.” Gender on the Ballot (blog), April 29, 2020. Arguing that female members of the US Congress are raising the issues with the greatest impact on women.

Nguyen, Frances. “This State Says It Has a ‘Feminist Economic Recovery Plan.’ Here’s What That Looks like.” The Lily (Washington Post), April 22, 2020. Interview with Khara Jabola-Carolus, Hawai’i Commission on the Status of Women’s executive director on the state’s “feminist economic recovery plan.”

Pindyck, Shira. “Penn Pandemic Diary, Entry #34: Military Logistics and Gender in the Time of COVID-19.” Perry World House Penn Pandemic Diary (blog), June 5, 2020. Blog post exploring idea that gender-inclusive militaries might be better prepared to address health and humanitarian emergencies.

Shay, Laine. “Closing Time! Examining the Impact of Gender and Executive Branch Policymakers on the Timing of Stay-at-Home Orders.” Politics & Gender, 2020, 1–10. Accepted manuscript for Politics & Gender (Cambridge Coronavirus Collection) finding that gender of governor not a significant variable in decision to issue stay-at-home orders in US states, but that states with female-headed health agency more likely to issue stay-at-home orders in March-April 2020.

Thank you to Robyn Schowengerdt, for superb research assistance.  Thank you to Stephanie House-Niamke for production and publication assistance.