Gendered Complications of COVID-19: Towards a Feminist Recovery Plan

52 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020 Last revised: 20 Oct 2020

See all articles by Naomi Cahn

Naomi Cahn

University of Virginia School of Law

Linda C. McClain

Boston University - School of Law

Date Written: October 16, 2020


Gendered inequalities are on the frontlines of COVID-19. The catalogue of COVID-19’s impact covers all aspects of women’s lives: work, family, education, health, reproduction, mental and physical well-being, and leisure. The pandemic has exposed the limitations in the current economic system on public and private support for gender equity and the intersecting impact of gender, race, and class in that lack of support. Women of color, particularly Black, Latina, and Native American, are at the intersection of the inequities in the emerging stay-at-home economy. This Article argues that COVID-19 is likely to have complex implications for gender equality and gender equity as state and local governments, the federal government, and private actors focus on recovery plans. The negative impact includes hundreds of thousands of deaths, lingering health complications for many among the several million people who have already contracted the virus, massive economic disruption and loss for individuals, families, and communities and the exacerbation of structural inequalities. The creative policy responses prompted by the devastating impact of COVID-19 provide promise for building a more transformative and equitable future. Indeed, any roadmap to resilience is incomplete without addressing the gender inequities in our social infrastructure. Proposing a feminist recovery plan, this Article focuses on a set of issues relating to gender inequities concerning work and family, including the gender pay gap, the child care crisis, and the disproportionate role of women—particularly, women of color— in providing essential but undervalued care work.

Keywords: Gendered Inequalities, Frontlines of COVID-19, Catalogue of COVID-19’s Impact, Women’s Lives, Pandemic Limitations

Suggested Citation

Cahn, Naomi R. and McClain, Linda C., Gendered Complications of COVID-19: Towards a Feminist Recovery Plan (October 16, 2020). Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, 2020, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2020-67, Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-30, Available at SSRN:

Naomi R. Cahn (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Linda C. McClain

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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