A new analysis by Citigroup Inc. has predicted that about 31 million female workers face potential job cuts due to the Covid19-prompted economic crisis, compared to only 13 million men.
Highlighting how women are more vulnerable to the economic fallout, the paper also predicts a USD 1 trillion loss in global GDP if these women drop out of the workforce. The study excludes China, but the authors of the study believe that the numbers, and the subsequent disparity, would only be higher if the world’s second-largest economy was considered.
During the economic uncertainty brought on by Covid19, women have been disproportionately impacted. The pandemic has hit sectors with high female employment, like leisure, retail (including garment manufacturing), hospitality, education and tourism. “The greater vulnerability of women to job losses is due to the segmentation of female laborers into sectors that are the most negatively affected by coronavirus disruptions,” the Citi economists wrote.
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Another study published last month suggests that closures of schools and daycare centers have lead to increased childcare burdens, which tend to fall on mothers. According to a survey of 2,200 Americans by The New York Times in April, 66 percent of women surveyed admitted to being in charge of childcare in the household, and 70 percent of women said they were either solely or mostly responsible for domestic labor around the house. In India, the skewed burden of domestic labor during lockdown would likely be far more stark.
In addition, when crises like the current pandemic reinforce gender stereotypes, it could hamper women’s return to the workforce, Aliya Hamid Rao, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Singapore Management Institute explained on a Harvard Business Review podcast. In fact, even though previous recessions have affected men’s employment more, women had taken longer to return back to employment.
Even before the pandemic began wreaking havoc upon the global economy, women were already struggling with a colossal gender gap in employment with the World Economic Forum predicting in the Global Gender Gap Report 2020 that: “None of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes, and nor likely will many of our children.” Now, courtesy of Covid19, the gender gap has been widened further.