Women Bear US$800 Billion Brunt of Covid Related Jobs Loss

30th April 2021

Posted In: FYI

The Covid-19 crisis cost women around the world at least $800 billion in lost income in 2020, equivalent to more than the combined GDP of 98 countries – dealing a striking blow to recent gains for women in the workforce, said Oxfam.


Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“Economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is having a harsher impact on women, who are disproportionately represented in sectors offering low wages, few benefits and the least secure jobs.

“This conservative estimate doesn’t even include wages lost by the millions of women working across the world in the informal economy – domestic workers, market vendors and garment workers ­– who have been sent home or whose hours and wages have been drastically cut.”

Globally, women are overrepresented in low-paid, precarious sectors, such as retail, tourism, food and textile services, that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Women also make up a majority of the world’s health and social care workforce.

In the EU alone, 76 percent of healthcare workers are women —essential but often poorly paid jobs that put them at greater risk from Covid-19.

Women have also been more likely than men to drop out of the workforce or reduce their hours during the pandemic, largely due to care responsibilities. The Covid-19 crisis has shown yet again that it is the care economy, a ‘hidden engine’, that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies turning.

Jim went on to say: “Even before the virus struck, the responsibility for caring in Ireland was deeply gendered and severely unbalanced. Last year, Oxfam Ireland estimated that women’s unpaid care work contributes at least €24 billion to the Irish economy every year – the equivalent of 12.3 percent of the entire annual economy.

“For women in every country on every continent, along with losing income, the demands of unpaid care work have rapidly increased. As care needs spiked during the pandemic, women – the shock absorbers of our societies – have stepped in to fill the gap, an expectation so often imposed by sexist social norms.”

The effects of these dramatic changes will be unevenly felt for years to come. An additional 47 million women worldwide are expected to fall into extreme poverty in 2021, while the World Economic Forum predict that closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years due to negative outcomes for women in 2020.

Jim concluded: “As we move from emergency measures to long-term recovery, our government must seize this opportunity to build a more equal, inclusive economy for everyone living in Ireland. Our Citizens Assembly has laid out what needs to be done for gender equality – offering concrete actions across politics and leadership, caregiving and childcare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, pay and the workplace, social protection, as well reforming the constitution.

“A fair and sustainable economic recovery is one that supports women’s employment and unpaid care work, as recovery from Covid-19 is impossible without women recovering.”