The Uruguayan Debt to Women Due to the Pandemic Amounts to 2 Billion Dollars

During the pandemic, Uruguay racked up a staggering $1.996 billion in debt to women, highlighting gender economic disparities in work, unpaid work, and unfulfilled state benefits.

Cecilia Alemany

11/29/2023.- The deputy regional director of the UN Women Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, Cecilia Alemany, speaks during the presentation of the study “The pandemic: How much is the debt owed to women?”, at the Cultural Center of Spain in Montevideo (Uruguay). EFE/ Alejandro Prieto


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Leer en español: La deuda uruguaya con las mujeres por la pandemia asciende a 2 mil millones de dólares

State Debt with Women in Uruguay: A Detailed Analysis

During the pandemic, the Uruguayan State contracted a debt of 1,996,000 million dollars with the women of the country at the labor level (500 million dollars), for unpaid work (1,344 million dollars) and for benefits not provided (152 million Dollars).

This is detailed in the study 'The Pandemic. How much is the debt in Uruguay with women?', co-organized by UN Women, the Faculty of Economic and Administration Sciences (Fcea), the Institute of Economics (Iecon), and the Cotidiano Mujer collective.

The economists Verónica Amarante, Paola Azar, Jéssica Schertz, and Andrea Vigorito presented the results of the analysis this Wednesday at the Cultural Center of Spain.

The research quantified the losses suffered by women during 2020 and 2021 because the Uruguayan State did not recognize the already existing gender inequalities that increased during the pandemic and whose costs fell on them, deepening the injustices from the starting point.

Debt Broken Down by Sectors

The experts pointed out that the percentage of debt contracted for unpaid work in homes was the highest with respect to the country's Gross Domestic Product, 1.19% on average between 2020 and 2021, while the labor level accounted for 0.45%. % of GDP and in unrealized benefits 0.14%.

The transfers not made by the State were benefits that women did not receive because, when the pandemic began, the Government increased their amount but did not extend their range of coverage.

In this sense, Uruguayan women represent 74.6% of the State's total debt for benefits not provided; 67.8% in the case of unpaid work, and 25.6% of labor debt.

Taking into account their socioeconomic characteristics, the study details that in households with lower income, women were more affected by debt for unpaid benefits and care, while labor debt had a greater weight in households with higher income.

Socioeconomic Impact

On the other hand, the economists affirmed that the 'covid tax', the rate for officials with salaries greater than 120,000 nominal pesos during the pandemic, focused its burden on women, who have a greater presence in the public sector and were overrepresented in the taxable population.

"Macroeconomics also has gender, the functioning of the economy has limitations that in a field of inequality will affect men and women differently," they said.

With this initiative, the aim was for Uruguay to design a debt calculation model at the national level and for it to be replicated in other Latin American countries.

In statements to EFE, the deputy regional director of the UN Women Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean, Cecilia Alemany, stated that "solutions are being proposed that will improve the management of other future crises, but also see how the State has to invest to overcome this debt".

State Investment to Reduce Gender Inequalities

"Uruguay's national care system is a benchmark for the region, so the public budget allocated is also important for all countries that are advancing in this regard in the region and look at how Uruguay responds," he added.

Also read: Claudia Goldin, Nobel de economía 2023: ¿Qué puede aprender América Latina?

Alemany called for increasing state investment "for agendas that reduce gender inequality," such as access to the labor market, reduction of the wage gap, re-entry and improvement of careers, and greater representation of women in the most competitive sectors.

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