Women, the most affected in crisis by COVID-19

An analysis by the International Monetary Fund explains the causes that are economically affecting women in times of pandemic .

Kristalina Georgieva

The impact of COVID-19 worldwide generates a threat to women's economic opportunities. / Photo: twitter.com/KGeorgieva

The Woman Post | Maria Lourdes Zimmermann

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Leer en español: Mujeres, las más afectadas en crisis por COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse women's earnings and economic opportunities , widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress. That statement was recently made by the IMF International Monetary Fund.

In many countries the crisis will leave very deep economic scars. Serious disruptions in the labor market are a major concern. In some countries, more jobs have been lost in March and April than those created since the end of the global financial crisis.

School closings also had an impact on the ability of people, particularly women, to participate in the labor market. Fortunately, some jobs have recovered since then, but the proportion of the working-age population that is employed is much less than in the early 2020s. In addition, the impact on the labor market is likely to be far greater in scope, as many of the people who are employed are working fewer hours.

The International Monetary Fund explains why the pandemic has had disproportionate effects on the economic situation of women in the world, clarifying that with respect to men, women are more likely to work in social sectors, such as the service industries, retail, tourism, among others, where face-to-face interactions are required. "These sectors are the most affected by social distancing and mitigation measures."

In the United States, unemployment among women was two percentage points higher than that of men between April and June 2020, for example.

In Colombia, women's poverty has increased 3.3 percent due to the closure of economic activities . The UN estimates that the pandemic will increase the number of people living in poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean by 15.9 million, bringing the total number of people living in poverty to 214 million, many of them women and girls.

Due to the nature of their jobs , telecommuting is not an option for many women. In the United States, about 54 percent of women working in social sectors are unable to telecommute. In Brazil, it is 67 percent. In low-income countries, at most, only about 12 percent of the population can work remotely. This continues to accentuate the gap between women and men.

Women tend to do more unpaid housework than men, about 2.7 hours a day more to be exact. They bear the brunt of family care responsibilities stemming from closure measures, such as school closings and precautions for vulnerable elderly parents. Once closure measures have been lifted, women take longer to return to full employment.

In Canada, the May job report shows that women's employment increased by 1.1 percent compared to 2.4 percent for men, as childcare problems persist. Furthermore, among parents with at least one child under the age of 6, men were approximately three times more likely to return to work than women.

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Pandemics put women at greater risk of losing human capital, says the IMF. In many developing countries, girls are forced to drop out of school and work to supplement household income. The report also analyzes how health problems in various countries have particularly affected women.

According to the Unesco Malala Fund report analyzing the quality of world education, the proportion of girls who did not attend school almost tripled in Liberia after the Ebola crisis, and girls were 25% less likely than boys to re-enroll in Guinea.

In India, since the COVID-19 blockade went into effect, major marriage websites have reported a 30 percent increase in new registrations as families arrange marriages to secure their daughters' futures. "Without education, these girls suffer a permanent loss of human capital, sacrifice productivity growth and perpetuate the cycle of poverty among women," says the report.

This analysis by Kristalina Georgieva, head of the IMF and three of her economic experts, concludes that it is crucial that policymakers take steps to limit the effects of the pandemic on women. "This could involve a focus on extending income support to the most vulnerable, preserving employment ties, providing incentives to balance job and family care responsibilities, improving access to health care and family planning, and expanding support for small businesses. "

Removing legal barriers against women's economic empowerment is also a priority. Some countries have moved quickly to adopt some of these policies, but all in all, the gap continues to widen and women continue to be affected at a time when the world is living under pressure from the pandemic and global economic slowdown.

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