The COVID 19 pandemic is shattering the accelerated progress attained after decades of struggle. Social distancing measures stemming from the spread of novel coronavirus caused the staggering economic and social impact, with more diversified impacts on women. The economy is already challenging on women, and the current global health emergency is retching the existing gaps and tensions up, plunging the number of women out of the workforce.

COVID Unemployment in Women

The COVID pandemic has disrupted the entire way of living. Begining from march, the closed doors of non-essential businesses led to the downsizing of millions of companies, leaving the workers either furloughed or laid off. A massive section of the population was constrained to their homes.

The majority of workers in the frontline sector are women, including K-12 education, health, and paid care. Although, unfortunately, the lack of adequate health and safety measures put many workers in particular situations, where working put them and their families at risk of contamination., many men and women were forced to leave their job for safety reasons until the infection rates fell. But in the other sectors, the job loss ratio between men and women is staggering.

Since the pandemic’s beginning, women account for 53.5% of complete job loss in the US alone, with Latina and black women accounting for higher unemployment rates. In Europe, the percentage of job loss in men is about 45% less than in women. A similar trend can be seen throughout Brazil, India, and South Africa.

The surveys are highlighting that COVID-19 will be having a long-lasting impact on women’s economic participation. For example, an estimate shows that the poverty rate among women could go up by 1.9%. Whereas, in the US, about 40% of women have been out for work for over six months and more.

The economic and work status of women are also affected significantly. For example, mother’s work hours declined four to five times more than fathers’. And the U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported women’s unemployment increased by 2.9% in comparison to men’s. The impact of economic hardship on young adults and women was further highlighted by the findings of an Indiana University study. The pandemic is also expected to have the most negative impacts on industries dominated by women. Retail, service/hospitality, education, and child care are examples of these.

The highest joblessness in decades has left an astounding 1.8 million fewer women in the labor force compared to the pre-pandemic times, and all this is happening in a country with a severe labor shortage.

Bearing the Weight of Messy Economic Reopening

Economists believe this recovery to be the second biggest economic reshuffle ever since World War II and last year’s sudden pandemic crisis. Moreover, as the new vaccinated consumers are confidently venturing out for long-delayed vacations, shopping, job-posting, the service sector is actually booming, especially tourism and hospitality, industries where women account for the majority of the workforce.

In the past year, the economy has gone through a real upheaval. But now, it is recovering from a good-driven, pandemic economy where the service industry struggled to survive to a new normal due to COVID vaccine availability and falling infection cases.

But the fact that these industries need long working hours in return for relatively little pay makes many question their career choices. After losing their jobs, millions of women remain on the sidelines, but only a few women are returning to join the labor force. The expert believes the uncertainty of their future makes women hesitant to return to the labor force.

According to Marianne Wanamaker, economic, University of Tennesse, says, “There’s no urgency on the part of people who are unemployed to get back into the labor force because there’s no evidence that they won’t be able to find a job when they’re ready,”

Building Back Better

Businesses and governments developing and executing plans for reconstruction must include an intentional gender approach in recovery efforts. Without this lens, decades of efforts in women’s value in the economic cycle and empowerment might get shoved out the window. The US, Europe, and Hawaii are already making women-centric amendments in the recovery effort.

The six-step action plan according to BSR in companies can sure gender-responsive approach of building back a better economy with women in mind:

  • Cosidering re-entry, mentorship, and training programs for women
  • Options for flexible working hours so workers of all gnereder can perfectly balance their proffessional and private life
  • Encouragign men to complete their share of unapid household and care work
  • Supporting sruvivors of demoestic violence
  • Realizing that the impact of COVID19 have not been geneder neutral
  • Advocating gender-responsive recovery to reach even the most vulnearable section

Developing fairer, more inclusive, more prosperous societies requires more robust engagement in the issue of gender equality. Unfortunately, the pandemic is hitting women and girls harder than ever before. Nonetheless, moving forward, we have a unique opportunity to influence systems, structures, and environments in a way that brings more advantages and equity to women – and for people to support each other in building empowerment and enabling conditions that enable women to thrive.