Fewer women than men will regain work during COVID-19 recovery: ILO

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Fewer women will regain jobs lost to the COVID-19 pandemic during the recovery period, than men, according to a new study released on Monday by the UN’s labor agency.

The report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) was themed: Building Forward Fairer: Women’s rights to work and at work at the core of the COVID-19 recovery.

It notes that women’s employment declined by 4.2 per cent globally, representing 54 million jobs, between 2019 and 2020. In the same period, men suffered a three per cent decline, or 60 million jobs.

This means that only 43 per cent of the world’s working-age women will be employed in 2021, compared to 69 per cent of their male counterparts.

ILO in its report suggests that women have suffered disproportionate job and income losses because of their over-representation in the hardest-hit sectors, such as accommodation and food services, and the manufacturing sector.

The Americas experienced the greatest reduction in women’s employment as a result of the pandemic (a reduction of 9.4 per cent). The second highest drop in the number of employed women was observed in the Arab States where, between 2019 and 2020, women’s employment declined by 4.1 per cent and men’s by 1.8 per cent.

In Asia and the Pacific the pandemic led women’s employment to decrease by 3.8 per cent, 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.

In Africa, men’s employment experienced the smallest decline across all geographic regions, with just a 0.1 per cent drop between 2019 and 2020, while women’s employment decreased by 1.9 per cent.

The ILO report notes 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.

It fronts a “building forward fairer”, which means placing gender equality at the core of the recovery effort and putting in place gender-responsive strategies.

(With input from ILO)

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