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Fewer women than men will regain employment during the COVID-19 recovery, says ILO

A new policy brief shows that there will be 13 million fewer women in employment in 2021 compared to 2019, while men’s employment will have recovered to 2019 levels. Even though the projected jobs growth in 2021 for women exceeds that of men, it will, nonetheless, be insufficient to bring women back to pre-pandemic employment levels.  

The document indicates that women have suffered disproportionate job and income losses because of their over-representation in the hardest-hit sectors, such as accommodation and food services and manufacturing.

Furthermore, the organisation highlights that each region of the planet suffered a different impact. The most affected were the Americas, followed by the Arab States,  Asia and Pacific, Europe and Africa. Still, some countries managed to guarantee wage subsidies and other subsidies for women, such as Chile and Colombia; Mexico and Kenya, instead, set up quotas to ensure that women benefited from public employment programs.

The policy brief emphasises that “building forward fairer” means placing gender equality at the core of the recovery effort and putting in place gender-responsive strategies. These include: investing in the care economy because the health, social work and education sectors are important generators of jobs; working towards universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection; promoting equal wages; eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work; and promoting women’s participation in decision-making bodies.

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