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Endemicity, care and gender: towards developing resilience in Malaysia’s essential care workforce and infrastructure

The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to control it have threatened livelihoods, introduced new workplace risks and made unstable work relationships even more precarious, especially for women. This project will study the experience of women performing paid and unpaid work during the COVID-19 pandemic and assess the effectiveness and relevance of policies that govern their working conditions during the pandemic.

It will examine the burden of care work (both formal and informal, paid and unpaid) across Malaysia and consider social identifiers using an intersectional lens. These identifiers include ethnicity, gender and class across a spectrum of essential care workers residing in various household and familial configurations. The data generated will be participatory, guided by feminist research principles and collected through in-depth interviews, quantitative surveys, focus group discussions and policy assessments. This work will enhance the capacity of community-based researchers in conducting, analyzing and interpreting research for use in policy processes. In addition, engagement with key government stakeholders will increase their understanding of the gendered impact of COVID-19 on the care sector and equip them with evidence-based policy options on how to ensure resilience and sustainability of the care sector in times of crisis.

This project is funded under Women’s health and economic empowerment for a COVID-19 Recovery that is Inclusive, Sustainable and Equitable (Women RISE), an initiative of IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Its aim is to support global action-oriented, gender-transformative research by teams of researchers from low- and middle-income countries and Canada.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Montasser Kamal
Total Funding
CA$ 1,000,000.00
Global Health
Global Health
Women RISE
Institution Country
Women's Aid Organisation, Malaysia
Institution Country
The Governors of The University of Alberta
Women's Aid Organisation