This week, Oxfam revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost women around the world $800 billion in lost income. According to the charity, women, who remain overrepresented in low-income jobs across industries including retail, tourism and food services, lost more than 64 million jobs in 2020 — a 5 percent total loss, compared to a 3.9 percent loss for men.
Women also lost their jobs at a faster rate than men and in the informal economy, suffered more severely due to little or no health care, unemployment benefits or other protections.
Oxfam’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher, said in a statement the pandemic has “dealt a striking blow” to recent gains for women in the workforce.
“As we move from emergency measures to long-term recovery, governments around the world must seize this opportunity to build more equal, more inclusive economies for all,” Bucher said.
“A fair and sustainable economic recovery is one that supports women’s employment and unpaid care work through strong social safety nets and vibrant care infrastructures. Recovery from COVID-19 is impossible without women recovering.”
Based on International Labor Organisation figures, the $800 billion figure probably underestimates the total cost burdened by women since it doesn’t include wages lost by millions of women in informal jobs.
According to the World Economic Forum, closing the global gender gap will now be pushed back by an entire generation — from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
Even before the global pandemic, women put in 12.5 billion hours of daily unpaid care work. This year, 47 million women will be expected to fall into extreme poverty, living on less than $1.90 a day.
In America, one in six women of colour are facing food insecurity due to the pandemic.
In response, some states are receiving $39 billion from the federal government to support child care — part of a $1.9 trillion relief package President Joe Biden signed earlier this year.
In Argentina, new legislation gives flexible work schedules to people caring for children or the disabled.
According to Oxfam, only 11 countries have introduced shorter or flexible work arrangements for workers with care responsibilities, while 36 have reinforced family and paid sick leave for parents and caregivers.