Post sponsored by

MIL OSI Translation. Government of the Republic of France statements from French to English

Source: MFIS in French

(photo: STR / NurPhoto / Zuma)

The consequences differentiated from the COVID-19 on women and men

Kristalina Georgieva, Stefania Fabrizio, Cheng Hoon Lim, and Marina M. Tavares

on the 21st of July 2020

The pandemic of COVID-19 threatens to erase the gains achieved in terms of economic opportunities available to women, widening the gaps that persist between the sexes in spite of 30 years of progress.

Public policy that is well designed to promote the recovery can mitigate the negative consequences of the crisis on women and to prevent new setback for equality between women and men. What is good for women is good as a last resort for reducing inequality of income, economic growth, and resilience.

Why the COVID-19 a-t-it had disproportionate effects on women and on their economic status ? The explanation is multi-faceted.

First of all, women are more likely than men to work in the social sectors, such as services, distribution, tourism and hospitality, which require exchanges in face-to-face. These sectors are the hardest hit by the distancing and physical mitigation measures. In the United States, the unemployment rate of women was higher than 2 % of men between April and June 2020. Because of the nature of their jobs, telecommuting is not possible for many women. In the United States, approximately 54% of the women who work in the social sectors, can’t telecommute, while in Brazil, they are 67 % in this situation. In low-income countries, it is at most 12 % of the population who can telecommute.

Secondly, in low-income countries, women tend more than men to work in the informal sector. Informal employment, often paid in cash without formal monitoring, means for the women a salary more low, and the lack of protection of the right to work and benefits such as retirement pensions or health insurance. The livelihoods of the informal workers have suffered the crisis of COVID-19 with full force. In Colombia, the poverty rate for women has increased by 3.3 % due to the closure of economic activities. The United Nations consider the pandemic will increase by approximately $ 15.9 million the number of individuals living in poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing the total number of poor people to 214 million, many of whom are women and girls.

Thirdly, women tend to perform more unpaid household tasks than men, about 2.7 hours more per day to be exact. They assume the greater share of family responsibilities resulting of the closure measures such as school closures and the precautions to be taken for the elderly parents vulnerable. When the closure measures are lifted, women have more time to work full-time. In Canada, thesurvey on the active population the month of may shows that the women employment has increased by 1.1 % compared to 2.4% for men, because of the issues of custody of children persist. In addition, among parents who have at least one child under 6 years of age, men are about three times more likely to be returned to work than women.

Fourth, the pandemic has exposed women to an increased risk of loss of human capital. In many developing countries, girls are forced to leave school and work to supplement the household income. According to the report the Malala Fund, during the crisis of Ebola, the percentage of girls not in school has almost tripled in Liberia, while in Guinea, the girls were 25 % less likely than boys to enroll in school. In India, since the entry into force of the confinement related to the COVID-19, the major Web sites of marriage recorded a 30 per cent rise in registrations because families arrange marriages to ensure the future of their daughters. Private instruction, they suffer a permanent loss of human capital that sacrifices productivity growth and perpetuates the cycle of poverty in the female population.

It is essential that leaders take measures to limit the traumatic impact of the pandemic on women. These steps could include, for example, to extend income assistance to vulnerable people, to preserve the bonds of employment, to put in place incentives to balance work and family responsibilities, and to improve access to health care and contraception, and to expand aid to small businesses and self-employed workers. The elimination of legal obstacles to the economic empowerment of women is also a priority. Some countries have acted rapidly to adopt some of these measures.

Austria, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia have introduced a legal right to a leave of absence partially paid for parents who have children below a certain age, and France has expanded sick leave for parents affected by the school closures if no other supported solution, or any other organization of work are possible.
In Latin America, leaders have created the “Coalition for women’s economic empowerment” in the context of a broader effort of public authorities to increase the participation of women in economic recovery post-pandemic.
In Togo, 65 % of participants in a new program of monetary transfers by mobile phone are women. This program allows informal workers to receive aid equal to 30 % of the minimum wage.

In the longer term, public policies can be developed to reduce the inequalities between women and men in creating the right conditions and incentives to work women. As analysed in a recent blog the measures that are particularly effective are fiscal policies gender-sensitive, such as investment in education and infrastructure, subsidies for childcare and parental leave. These measures are not only crucial to remove obstacles to the economic empowerment of women, they are also needed to promote a recovery inclusive after the COVID-19.


Kristalina Georgieva

Stefania Fabrizio is head of unit, assistant of the department of strategy, policy and assessment of the IMF. Before joining the IMF, she was a visiting professor at the university of Salamanca (Spain). His research focuses on macroeconomics, public finances and budgetary institutions. She has worked extensively on issues related to the impact of policies and macroeconomic reforms on the income distribution. Her work has been published in economic journals of the first rank. She holds a phd in economics from the european university Institute.

Cheng Hoon Lim is deputy director of the western Hemisphere department of the IMF. She has in-depth experience of emerging countries and advanced countries, and has published on a wide range of topics, including as co-director of publications of several books. She graduated with high honors and Phi Beta Kappa at Smith College, and holds a phd from the university of Cambridge (1994).

Marina M. Tavares is an economist in the IMF’s research department. Previously, she was an economist in the department of strategy, policy and assessment of the IMF, and has led work on inequality, led by the IMF in collaboration with the uk department for international development (DFID). Before joining the IMF, she was assistant professor at the Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM). She holds a phd in economics from the university of Minnesota and a master’s degree from the Instituto de Matematica Pura e Aplicada (IMPA). His research focuses on macroeconomics, public finance, and gender inequality.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure is not be perfect.

MIL Translation OSI