The International Labour Organization (ILO) has revealed that some 13 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean lost their jobs in 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-9 pandemic.
The ILO said this represents an increase of the regional unemployment rate for women from 10.3 to 12.1 per cent.
The 13 million women who have seen their jobs disappear is added to about 12 million others who were already affected by unemployment before the pandemic.
So in total, around 25 million women are currently unemployed or out of the workforce.
According to data from the latest ILO Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean, it has been more than 15 years since there was such a low rate of participation by women.
10-year setback in 10 months
Women have been affected in the labour market largely due to their greater presence in economic sectors strongly affected by this crisis, such as the service industry, where about 50 per cent of the female labour force works. Another of those sectors is ‘commerce’ where women account for 26 per cent of the workforce.
“This unprecedented crisis has exacerbated gender gaps in the region’s labour markets, pulling millions of women out of the workforce, and negated previous advances. We have gone back 10 years in 10 months and now we need to recover those jobs and step on the accelerator of gender equality,” said Vinicius Pinheiro, ILO Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Recovery from the crisis at work must remove the amplification of inequalities caused by COVID-19 if we want to achieve sustainable economic growth with productive and quality jobs … It is crucial to reaffirm the commitment to recover the ground lost during the economic and social debacle in our countries,” added the ILO Regional Director.
The ILO indicated that other factors that have affected women’s job recovery prospects are the growing difficulties of reconciling paid work with family responsibilities.
Women face a context where education and care services have been deeply affected and altered hand-in-hand with health measures for distancing and reducing the mobility of people.
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