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Coronavirus: Women’s health, finances are more affected

Cliched role allocations between the sexes are re-emerging amid the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis as unpaid care work or high-risk jobs are often disproportionately done by women. Marina Strauss reports from Brussels

The coronavirus crisis is not without its little pleasures. For Audrey Lebeau-Live, one of them is pushing the mute button on the video and audio conferences from her work. This button allows her to do the washing up, listen with one ear to her daughter giving a presentation in the next room to her computer camera and — if all goes well — put a load of washing in the machine.

Since the French government imposed comprehensive stay-at-home regulations and temporarily closed schools in mid-March, Lebeau-Live has been feeling like many parents across the world who have to work and look after children at the same time. “You have the sense of never getting enough done, never coping with everything,” she says on the telephone.

We must examine parity in all areas of society,” says Audrey Lebeau-Live, who works in nuclear security for the French government

Under normal circumstances, she and her husband used to share household chores. But now, for example, cooking lunch is an additional task, as everyone ate in the canteen before the coronavirus crisis hit. “It’s mostly the mothers who get burdened with the extra work,” Lebeau-Live says, and laughs, even though she doesn’t really feel like laughing. She says she feels responsible for it all, unlike her husband, who thinks: What I manage, I manage; the rest can wait for the time being.

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