As the health emergency abates, governments, big business and investors have the opportunity to refocus their attention on previous goals, such as aiming to reach gender equality.
According to a recent finding by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), women are particularly exposed to the crisis posed by the novel Coronavirus. Women being on the frontlines of the fight against the virus itself, constitute upto 70 percent of global healthcare workers and as much as 95 percent of long-term care workers. However, if Economists Dana Peterson and Catherine Mann laid down some jarring figures that reveal damage to the global economy from pandemic job losses for women.
They point out that more than 220 MN women globally are in vulnerable sectors. They expect 31 MN to lose their jobs, as opposed to 13 MN men.
“If approximately 31 million women in six key sectors lost their jobs on account of Covid-19, then the equivalent loss to real global GDP [gross domestic product] might sum to as much as US$1 trillion, or represent 1.2 percent of the 3.6 percentage point drop in 2020 global GDP growth we expect,” say the economists.
It is predicted that since the COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting women workers in many ways, there is a risk of losing some of the gains made in recent decades and exacerbating gender inequalities in the labour market. In contrast to previous crises, women’s employment is at greater risk than men’s, particularly owing to the impact of the downturn on the service sector. At the same time, women account for a large proportion of workers in front-line occupations, especially in the health and social care sectors. Moreover, the increased burden of unpaid care brought by the crisis affects women more than men.
Why COVID-19 has hit women employment harder than men?
As per ILO reports, globally, almost 510 MN, or 40 percent of all employed women, work in hard-hit sectors, including accommodation and food services, wholesale and retail trade, real estate, business and administrative activities, and manufacturing. This compares with a share of 36.6 percent of employed men. The proportion of women working in hard-hit sectors is particularly high in Central America (58.9 percent), South-Eastern Asia (48.5 percent), Southern Europe (45.8 percent) and South America (45.5 percent). In these subregions, the share of men working in hard-hit sectors is significantly lower (43.0 percent in Central America, 33.2 percent in South-Eastern Asia and 42.0 percent in South America), apart from Southern Europe, where it is higher (49.1 percent).
These disproportionate impacts on women could undo some of the gains in gender equality in the labour market and exacerbate disparities.
Previous crises have shown that when women lose their jobs, their engagement in unpaid care work increases, and that when jobs are scarce, women are often denied job opportunities available to men. The bigger their losses in employment during the lockdown phase and the greater the scarcity of jobs in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, the harder it will be for women’s employment to recover.