CENTRAL Victorians have joined calls for government to commit to a gender equal COVID-19 recovery, as women face the worst consequences of the crisis.
More than 100 organisations have called for the government to recognise and respond to women's equality, health and safety.
Among them was central Victorian organisation Women's Health Loddon Mallee.
Chief executive Tricia Currie said a gender equal recovery would mean looking at solutions that addressed existing inequities, to avoid a two-laned economic recovery.
She said this might mean supporting industries where women are significantly employed, such as childcare.
Ms Currie said she wanted to see an understanding of what women were experiencing, and therefore, how they needed different support during recovery.
She said women were more likely to experience domestic violence, more likely to lose work and more likely to take on extra unpaid domestic labour during the pandemic.
Ms Currie said women's mental health was hit the hardest by the crisis.
Thirty-five per cent of women have experienced moderate to severe levels of depression during the COVID-19 crisis, compared to 19 per cent of men.
A total 55 per cent of COVID-19 induced job losses were among women.
Family violence cases in the Magistrates' Court have increased by 50 per cent since the lockdown began.
Ms Currie said she was seeing a similar pattern to other disasters, where family violence reporting dropped at its height, then increased. Ms Currie said many women had to go into lockdown with their abuser, making it harder to report.
She said that women experienced physical violence and abuse at much higher rates became evident during disaster recovery.
Gender Equity Victoria chief executive Tanja Kovac said the end of free childcare - which stopped on Monday - would have a significant impact on essential service workers, who were being penalised with extra childcare costs.
Ms Kovac said Australia was likely to drop further in the global gender gap index if government didn't pay more attention to the gendered effects of COVID-19.
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