Women are the worst hit in Covid 19 pandemic, especially when looking at the job sector. Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the pandemic during the recovery period than men, according to a new study by the International Labour Organization.
In the report “Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery”, the ILO says that the inequalities between women and men that have been exacerbated during the pandemic will persist in the near future.
Elaborating on the worst job situation, the ILO says that women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent across the world between 2019 and 2020. This came to around 564 million. Meanwhile, men suffered a three per cent decline or 60 million jobs, The UN organisation reveals that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment in 2021 compared to 2019, while men’s employment will have recovered to 2019 levels. Despite projected jobs growth in 2021 for women exceeds that of men, it will nonetheless, be insufficient to bring women back to pre-pandemic employment levels. The ILO points out that women suffered disproportionate job and income losses because of their over-representation in the hardest-hit sectors like accommodation, food services and the manufacturing sector.
In the report, the ILO notes that women in different regions suffered in different ways. In the Americas, women experienced the greatest reduction employment (9.4 per cent). The Arab states witnessed the second highest drop in women’s employment (4.1 per cent) between 2019 and 2020. Asia and the Pacific region also saw a drop of 3.8 per cent for women, compared to a decline of 2.9 per cent for men. In Europe and Central Asia, women’s employment was curtailed considerably more than men’s, leading to a 2.5 per cent and a 1.9 per cent decrease, respectively. Men’s employment in Africa experienced the smallest decline across all geographic regions, with just a 0.1 per cent drop between 2019 and 2020. Meanwhile, women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent.
The ILO report mentions that women faired considerably better in countries that took measures to prevent them from losing their jobs and allowed them to re-enter employment as early as possible. Chile and Colombia gave wage subsidies to new hires, with higher subsidy rates for women. Colombia and Senegal strengthened support for women entrepreneurs, Mexico and Kenya introduced quotas to guarantee that women benefited from public employment programmes.
The ILO emphasise that “building forward fairer” means placing gender equality at the core of the recovery effort and putting in place gender responsive strategies. These include:
- Investing in care economy as health, social work and education sectors are important generators of jobs. Care leave policies and flexible working arrangements can encourage a more even division of work at home between women and men.
- Working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection for all to reduce the current gender gap in social protection coverage.
- Promoting equal pay for work of equal value.
- Eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work.
- Promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies, social dialogue and social partner institutions