March 9, 2021
By Dan Lefkovitz, Morning Star
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, working women continue to suffer. Recessions typically hit men hardest because they are overrepresented in economically sensitive areas, such as manufacturing. But the societal lockdowns and school closures designed to prevent coronavirus transmission have taken a heavier toll on women.
According to the International Labour Organisation: “Women are disproportionately employed in critically affected sectors such as service, hospitality, tourism and are also impacted by the shifting of economic activity into the domestic sphere, where they carry the majority of increasing levels of unpaid care work.”
Women in many countries will see their career trajectories derailed and the gender wage gap widen as a result of the pandemic. In the US, nearly 2.2 million women left the labour force between February and October 2020, according to the National Women’s Law Center. A study of Japan by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tokyo University found that women have suffered economic impact three times as large as males.
This is an issue of both equality and economics. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 5 describes gender equality as a “fundamental human right,” and as the “foundation for a prosperous world.” Societies that tap into the full potential of their populations are more competitive and companies that promote gender equality can achieve better results, according to research by McKinsey and Credit Suisse. “Cognitive diversity,” which results from mixing backgrounds and perspectives, improves decision making.