A Gender-Sensitive Assessment of the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Households based on a Phone Survey: the Case of Vietnam's Textile, Garment, and Hospitality industries


The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in early 2020, has had a significant impact on the Vietnamese economy and industries in general, with two industries in particular standing out: (1) textile and garment and (2) hospitality. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and households with members working in these two industries was documented in this study, with a focus on female-headed households.

From May to July 2021, 1,000 Vietnamese households with members working in these two industries were surveyed on a national scale. The survey found considerable gender differences in employment, income, and other household impacts. Because of the pandemic outbreak in Vietnam, the majority of workers in the two industries, (1) textile and garment and (2) hospitality, have temporarily taken time off, reduced working hours, and reduced income. Total household income has decreased significantly, according to the May 2021 household survey, with female-headed households experiencing a greater decline than male-headed households. With no clear recovery signal, the average household income has all fallen to a deficient level. 15.7 percent of households have had their income reduced by more than half (income in May 2021 compared to April 2020). Social protection policies must be designed to cover not only poor households already on the official list, but also those who have fallen into temporary poverty as a result of the pandemic, particularly female-headed households. This is supported by the survey results, which show the vulnerability of female-headed households in these two industry groups. 44.8 percent of female-headed households experienced transient poverty (higher than the male-headed group, whose rate of falling into temporary poverty was 39.9 percent ). According to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA) poverty line for the period 2021-2025, 13.1 percent of households fall into poverty, with vulnerable households falling into poverty at a higher rate. After one year of being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, the MOLISA poverty rate tends to increase slightly from 48.4 percent (as of April 2020) to 49.6 percent (as of May 2021). Policy support is especially important when income declines and temporary poverty are associated with a wide range of other life consequences. For example, as of April 2020, 59.8 percent of interviewed households reported difficulties in non-economic activities. In May 2021, this percentage increased slightly to 63.7 percent. Difficulties primarily concern access to education, health care, and daily shopping. Difficulties will primarily fall on the shoulders of women, as the wife continues to do the majority of unpaid care and domestic work.

Almost all households strictly adhered to the Ministry of Health's pandemic prevention and control recommendations, such as wearing masks, washing hands with soap and hand sanitizer, canceling large gatherings, and increasing online shopping and payment. All interviewed households have installed Bluezone or nCovy applications and are ready to be vaccinated against COVID-19, indicating that pandemic prevention measures are being implemented successfully. However, approximately 19% of households have not been immunized. Concerns about post-injection reactions and side effects (50 percent), a lack of specific information on vaccination registration (23.9 percent), and concerns about vaccination costs are the main reasons for this group of households (14.5 percent ). It should continue to promote vaccination registration in urban areas while also taking into account information on vaccination side effects in the rural and informal sectors.

Spending cuts are the primary household response, with two-thirds of households using them to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Savings or new debt are used as a response measure by one-fifth of households. The majority of major family response decisions are reached by both husband and wife. Furthermore, the gender disparity is evident when the proportion of wives making major decisions in these matters is much higher than that of husbands, particularly when it comes to cutting spending for daily family activities. Households cut costs primarily for food (over half of surveyed households), electricity (1/3 of households), health care costs, and education expenses (about 1/5 of households). Job mobility is sluggish (only 6.4 percent of households). It is critical to change jobs and move geographically to look for job opportunities within the province and industry. Households that had to rely on savings to cover their expenses were primarily those with limited savings resources. 53.2 percent of these households only have enough savings to cover their expenses for 1-3 months.

There is a positive assessment of the Government's support against COVID-19. Most households have trust in the Government's measures to fight COVID-19. The majority of social assistance recipients have a favorable view of the program's implementation. However, survey data show a modest number of those receiving support in general. The majority, accounting for 80% of the households facing difficulties, demand support, especially for female-headed households. But only one in four households said they had received support. Increasing the budget for the social assistance package and promoting digital technology, connecting citizen data on a digital platform will help resolve numerous outstanding issues in implementing social policy support.

Support packages were far from adequate, with only 27 percent of affected households receiving assistance. Moreover, the support packages largely missed the transient income poor. Meanwhile, 44.8 percent of female-headed households fell into temporary poverty, compared to four in ten male-headed households. In addition, emergency support is most needed when income declines substantially, as transient poverty is associated with adverse non-income impact. For example, 59.8 percentof households said they faced difficulties in non-economic activities as of April 2020. This percentage increased slightly in May 2021 to 63.7 percent. Four in ten households reported having difficulty accessing education services, 30.7 percent for health care services, and 31.9 percent for purchasing food, beverage, and other necessities.

Furthermore, the design and implementation of policy support from a gender perspective needs to be given attention properly when the gender gap in unpaid care and domestic work (UCDW) is considerable. Most respondents reported that the UCDW burden had disproportionately fallen on women's shoulders. The gender gap in unpaid care and domestic work, in general, is 16.3 percentage points. The gender gap was 42.7 percentage points for house chores, 26.7 percentage points for taking healthcare for family members, 22.9 percentage points for taking care of children's education, and 17.4 percentage points for taking care of small kids (under five years old), and the elderly (over 70 years old) in the family.


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