More often than not, the idea of a global pandemic was considered to be a gender-neutral issue. However, the reality is painting a different picture where the crisis has always hit the vulnerable groups of the society the largest and one of them is women.  

When the entire world was dealing with COVID19, the UNCTAD analysis portrays that the preventative measures have first hit predominantly women. With the advancement of time, COVID 19 has snatched the lives of the innocent and the means to sustain one. 

Let’s look at some statistics that reflect the unemployment ratio between men and women and why more women than men are losing jobs during the pandemic. So, is the debate on are men losing jobs during the pandemic or is gender and unemployment non-binary?

How was men’s employment affected by COVID19?

The pandemic had seriously impacted almost all sectors and, more importantly, the trade sector. The men employed in the manufacturing industries were hit hard and were rendered unemployed with the onset of the pandemic. 

With the end of the first wave, a spike in men’s unemployment was observed. In some countries, the spread of the virus had begun to reduce; governments had started to ease restrictions and allowed people to return to their jobs. This might’ve opened up avenues for men to return to their old jobs or try something new. 

But what about women?

How did COVID19 impact on women and gender inequality?

No matter how worse the situation had become for women in terms of their employment, one can generalise that women had lost more jobs than men all over the world. There are certain countries where men’s unemployment subjugated that of women. 

However, it would not be false to admit that women’s labour force participation declined gradually, adding a gender and unemployment issue to the consequences of COVID 19. 

Pandemic and gender bias: More women than men losing jobs during the pandemic

Considering the statistics mentioned above supported by UNCTAD, the impact of covid 19 on jobs and gender inequality is undeniable. According to the US’s National Women’s Law Centre, nearly all jobs lost in the country belonged to women. This is not as shocking as to know that, on the one hand, when women lost approximately 156,000 jobs, men gained 16,000 on an average, during this period. 

In addition, since the onset of the pandemic, women have accounted for 55 per cent of total job losses. 

These figures often make one dubious of the accountability of the government, the state and the workings of the measures to manage the same. However, have you ever questioned why such a situation took birth in the first place?

Why are women losing more jobs than men during the pandemic?

Before the pandemic hit the world, women were indulged in twice as much unpaid care for their household chores in comparison to men. With the pandemic, they were forced to indulge even more in unpaid care, such as shopping, taking care of kids, cleaning, etc. Resultantly, a majority of women, unable to handle the stress without any external help, were left with no choice except to quit their jobs and focus on their household.  

According to a survey conducted by McKinsey, 40 percent of mothers have reportedly added three more hours to their week for paying extra attention to their household chores, which adds up to 15 or so hours a week. This exacerbates the situation of women, especially those who possess senior roles, as they are left pressured and stressed by their work and home at the end of the day. 

According to the 2020 Women in the Workplace study, conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn.org, one in four women have begun to leave their workplace or downshifted their careers. This has also greatly impacted their financial scenario and led to a deeply rooted disparity in a household that vaccines cannot cure. 

If these disparities continue to accelerate, the economy of the country and its social-cultural milieu can retrograde instead of advance. This can jeopardise the years’ of progress and advancement of women at almost every front. 

With a lack of participation or slow participation of women in the workplace, their managerial and corporate leadership representation is significantly reduced. These roles are opted by men and instead of climbing the ladder of success with senior positions, women have been demoted. According to the Women in the Workplace study, only one in five women was a CEO in corporations, and only one in 30 was a woman of colour. 

With this growing chasm, it gets uncontrolled, it not only affects the progress of one nation, but the economy of the nation also has to bear its brunt. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, if women’s unemployment continues to go uphill, the estimated global GDP growth will be reduced by one trillion dollars by the year 2030. 

How to ensure more women’s participation in the workforce now that the situation is improving?

As it has been explained, the wide unemployment gap will surely affect the progress of a nation and its overall economy. Under such circumstances, it is prudent for stakeholders to take some bold and thoughtful measures.

For instance, the government can expand child care assistance to support women and empower them. This can help them to participate in the workforce again even when the crisis deepens.  

In addition to this, educational incentives can be provided to women who lack high-school or college degrees and encouragement to participate in reskilling programs that can make their re-entering process much easier. Reskilling programs are essential because a higher percentage of job losses can be credited to the acceleration of automation, diminishing women’s importance.  

Apart from this, the company’s employers can provide women who have left their jobs, with various opportunities that can make up for the lost time. They can also analyse their workplace rules and ease restrictions to ensure more work hours and deadlines flexibility. 

To answer the question, are more women than men losing jobs during the pandemic? Then yes, and therefore, such measures will help in encouraging women to become a part of the workplace again and ensure quick re-entry. However, if women kept losing more jobs than men during the pandemic, it’s not going to prove good for anyone. Therefore, quick action is required in such dire circumstances. 

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