Women economic participation and the impact of Covid-19
The impact of COVID-19 across the global economy will be profound. Markets and supply chains have been disrupted, businesses were closed, and millions have or will lose their jobs and livelihoods. Travel restrictions, and the cancellation of many planned visits, flights, business and leisure events are severely affecting many sectors. And this is likely to persist for some time. The ILO has estimated that full or partial lockdown measures now affect almost 2.7 billion workers, representing around 81% of the world’s workforce, while the IMF projects a significant contraction of global output in 2020.
Emerging evidence suggests that women’s economic and productive lives will be affected disproportionately and differently from those of men. Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protections and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men.
Such impacts risk rolling back the already fragile gains made in female labour force participation. In many countries, the first round of layoffs has been particularly acute in the services sector, including retail, hospitality and tourism, where women are overrepresented.
Questions to guide the discussion:
- What policy measures and direct support are needed to address effectively the economic impact of COVID-19 on women and girls?
- How to adapt targeting methodologies of pre-existing national social protection programs to ensure income for sectors affected by COVID-19 and especially where women are heavily represented (tourism, teaching, retail, restaurants, hospitality, etc)?
- What actions are needed to reach and protect women workers from informal sector?
- What role can women’s networks and civil society organisations, including microfinance and savings groups play in dire economic situations impacted by a pandemic?