People in vulnerable situations
We have mentioned the challenges facing older people and lone parents in the websections gender impacts on health and unpaid care and housework. There are also other groups of people who are particularly vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Refugees and migrants
Women and men living in refugee camps are especially vulnerable to Covid-19 and other diseases as a result of living in overcrowded conditions, lack of sanitation, and lack of access to decent healthcare or vaccination programmes. Physical distancing and permanent hand washing are simply impossible.
Migrant women and men not living in camps are also vulnerable. They can face barriers to accessing healthcare, such as language, financial costs, legal restrictions and lack of awareness of available services. Pregnant refugees and migrants in Europe face a higher maternal mortality rate than non-migrant women, which may be exacerbated when healthcare services are stretched due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
People with disabilities
There are many people in our society for whom the recommended physical distancing measures are not an option. We have 61 million women and 47 million men with disabilities in the EU. Many of them depend on help from others to eat, dress or shower, which makes physical distancing almost impossible.
When it comes to domestic violence, women with disabilities are more vulnerable. 34 % of women with disabilities have suffered intimate partner violence, compared with 19 % of women without disabilities. They often are not physically able to access shelters and other facilities, so they remain in violent situations.
Across the EU, 30 % of Roma households live without any access to tap water. Without running water in the house, it is very difficult to frequently wash hands, which is one of the key ways to protect yourself against Covid-19.
What policymakers need to know
Women and men from certain minority groups face additional challenges arising from societal prejudices and stereotypes. Policymakers need to identify which groups are at higher risk of discrimination and social exclusion and to propose targeted measures to mitigate these risks.
Maintaining structural barriers in policies is costly. Ineffective implementation of the Racial Equality and the Employment Equality Directives at the national level costs the EU €224–305 billion in lost GDP and €88-110 in lost tax revenue.
In order to identify and understand intersecting discrimination, data and research with an intersectional perspective need to be strengthened. This will enable the development of policies and legislation that adequately address these inequalities.
For more information
 FRA (2018), Many EU Roma face life like people in the world’s poorer countries.
 European Parliamentary Research Service (2018), Equality and the fight against xenophobia and racism, p.24