The coronavirus pandemic is disproportionately affecting women workers and governments should prioritise policies that offset the effects the crisis is having on their jobs, International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.
Before the onset of Covid-19, many women were excluded from the labour market. The pandemic has made things much worse, said Valeria Esquivel, ILO senior employment policies and gender officer.
“It is disproportionately affecting women workers who are losing their jobs at a greater speed than men. More women than men work in sectors that have been hard hit by the economic fallout from pandemic like as tourism, hospitality and garment sector.”
Esquivel said large numbers of domestic workers most of whom are women are also at risk of losing their jobs. The vast majority of health workers are women which raises the risk of them catching the virus.
Moreover, she said, the fragility of their employment situation coupled with reduced access to labour and social protection has meant that women have found they are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, even in sectors which until now have experienced less disruption.
Governments should prevent women from losing their jobs by implementing policies that keep them in work as women have a harder time than men in getting back to paid work once crises have passed, said Esquivel.
Public employment services that connect job seekers with employers can help women find jobs in essential production and services. Expenditure cuts in public services have a disproportionate effect on women and children. That is why it is important to avoid cuts in health and education budgets, wages and pensions.
Improving their working conditions will have a significant impact on many women workers, given the large numbers who work in the care sector.
“Governments need to pro-actively counterbalance the effects of Covid-19 crisis on women. From a broader perspective, macroeconomic stimulus packages must continue to support and create jobs for women,” said Esquivel.
Policies should focus on hard-hit sectors that employ large numbers of women along with measures that help close their skill gaps and contribute to removing practical barriers to entry, she added.