The COVID-19 crisis will dramatically increase the poverty rate for women and widen the gap between men and women who live in poverty, according to new report by UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The poverty rate was expected to decrease by 2.7 percent between 2019 and 2021. However, the projections now point to an increase of 9.1 percent due to Covid-19, said the report “From Insights to Action; Gender Equality in the wake of Covid-19.
435 million women and girls will be living on less than 1.90 dollars a day as a result of the pandemic by 2021
The report said that though the pandemic will impact global poverty generally, women will be disproportionately affected, especially women of reproductive age. It said that there will be 118 women for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty (living on 1.90 dollar a day or less) by 2021. The gap is expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030. The report said that about 435 million women and girls will be living on less than 1.90 dollars a day (including 47 million pushed into poverty as a result of the pandemic) by 2021, it said.
Meanwhile, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that the increase in women’s extreme poverty was a stark indictment of deep flaws in the society and economy.
“We know that women take most of the responsibility for caring for the family. They earn less, save less and hold much less secure jobs – in fact; overall, women’s employment is 19 per cent more at risk than men’s. The evidence we have here of multiple inequalities is critical to drive swift, restorative policy action that puts women at the heart of pandemic recovery,” she said.
The UN Women says that the pandemic has posed a serious threat to the prospects of eradicating extreme poverty by the end of this decade. “And the reality might be even grimmer as these projections of increased poverty rates for women and girls only account for the downward revision of the gross domestic product (GDP), excluding other factors – such as women leaving the workforce due to childcare responsibilities – that may also affect the sex distribution of poverty,” the report said.
59 percent of the world’s poor women lived in sub-Saharan Africa.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said that more than 100 million women and girls could be lifted out of poverty if governments implement a comprehensive strategy aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers.
“Women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis as they are more likely to lose their source of income and less likely to be covered by social protection measures. Investing in reducing gender inequality is not only smart and affordable, but also an urgent choice that governments can make to reverse the impact of the pandemic on poverty reduction,” he said.
0.14 per cent of global GDP only needed to lift the world out of extreme poverty by 2030
The report also mentioned that 59 percent of the world’s poor women lived in sub-Saharan Africa. It also said that South Asia, which has made significant gains in poverty reduction in the past few years, is projected to experience resurgence in extreme poverty. By 2030, for every 100 men aged 25–34 living in poverty in Southern Asia there will be 129 poor women, an increase from 118 in 2021, it said.
The study also estimates that it would take just 0.14 per cent of global GDP (2 trillion dollars) to lift the world out of extreme poverty by 2030 and 48 billion dollars to close the gender poverty gap.
The report also looked into the employment sector. It said that women are employed in some of the most affected sectors such as accommodation, domestic work and food services. They have been particularly vulnerable to layoffs and loss of livelihood. According to International Labour Organization (ILO), by June 2020, it is estimated that 72 percent of domestic workers globally had lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. Women and men are both taking on more household chores and care for children and family members during lockdowns, but the majority of work still falls on the shoulders of women and girls.