How COVID-19 revealed gender gaps on poverty

Mar 5, 2021

March 8th marks the celebration of International Women’s Day. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly institutionalized the date, commemorating the struggle women face regarding their active participation in society and their independence.

It is believed the first commemoration was held on March 19, 1911 in Germany, Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. Since then, it has been celebrated in many other countries, including Colombia. Despite the great efforts that have been carried out, there are still social, economic and cultural inequities and difficulties between men and women that can be better understood through data.

To commemorate this day, the COVID-19 Data & Innovation Centre presents an evidence-based analysis with data provided by our global dashboard on gender economic inequality. This analysis reveals that inequalities persist, although efforts to equalize conditions between men and women have had positive results.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and worsened gender gaps around the world. By observing the behavior of poverty rates by gender at all ages -especially in countries of the Global South-, more equitable policies should  be built during the pandemic response and recovery phase. 

Here are 5 insights taken from the report From insights to action: Gender equality in the wake of COVID-19 by UN Women, explaining gender inequality related to poverty rates around the world:

1. The analysis of the global average shows that the greatest gender poverty gap is evidenced for women in the ages between 25 and 34 years. 

2. The Colombian case reveals that 51.2% of the population are women out of a total of 50’339.443 people (Word Data Bank), and according to the data collected by the COVID-19 Data & Innovation Centre, the greatest inequity in terms of poverty is found in the population between the ages of 25 and 34, where the poverty rate is higher for women compared to men. 

The poverty rate for women is 48.9%,  2.23% higher than men.


3. In other Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Suriname, the female population over 55 years is found to be in the greatest state of poverty.

4. The countries with the highest rates of economic inequality between men and women are located in Africa, a continent that in 2016, had more than 1,360,363,909 people. Countries like Congo, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone and Mali have high levels of poverty, especially the female population between 24 and 34 years old. However, men between 15 and 24 years are the most affected economically.


5. Although economic inequality leans more towards the women, the gap between men and women in Asia is not very wide. In countries such as India, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Philippines, both men and women between the ages of 15 to 24, 35 to 54, and over 55, present equitable poverty conditions. However, the female population between the ages of 25 and 34 remains in the highest poverty ranges, compared to men.

Although the highest rates of poverty are found in the female population, men are also part of these statistics.

6. In countries like Spain, the data shows men between 15 and 24, 35 and 55 years old and over 55  are among the population with the greatest economic struggles in the country.

Other countries like Morocco, Uzbekistan, Nigeria and Cambodia also have higher rates of poverty in their male population.


We can conclude Poverty rates of men and women around the world reveal a clear gap affecting women remains. Although efforts to address it have been implemented, it is important to continue generating disaggregated gender data, so that decision makers can propose better solutions and strategic plans that benefit both women and men around the world.