While both men and women were severely affected by the pandemic, women experienced a larger impact through multiple channels, according to a report. Picture: StartupStockPhotos/Pixabay
While both men and women were severely affected by the pandemic, women experienced a larger impact through multiple channels, according to a report. Picture: StartupStockPhotos/Pixabay

Women most affected in sectors disrupted by lockdowns – WEF report

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Apr 6, 2021

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Cape Town – Women around the world are more frequently employed in sectors that are most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and current economic recession, contributing to the gender gap in unemployment.

This is according to the 2020 Gender Gap Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last week.

Results showed that while both men and women were severely affected by the pandemic, women experienced a larger impact through multiple channels.

The report gathered high-frequency data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the LinkedIn Economic Graph team and Ipsos to provide an analysis of the impact of the pandemic on existing gender gaps in economic participation.

The impact of Covid-19 measures on women led to a drop in labour force participation, further than that of men at the start of the pandemic.

Women experienced higher unemployment rates, it took longer for them to be re-employed or hired in leadership roles.

The ILO estimates that 5% of all employed women lost their jobs globally, versus 3.9% of employed men.

In absolute terms, 64 million women and 80 million men lost their jobs, however the relative impact is higher on working women because there are fewer women in the labour market.

The report also suggests that future gender gaps are likely to be driven by occupation segregation in emerging roles.

Data showed that gender gaps are more likely in fields that require disruptive technical skill, such as engineering, where women make up only 20% of the workforce.

Data and AI, where women make up 32% of the workforce

Female representation in growth roles. Graphic by Keagan le Grange.

In order to adopt a gender-equal recovery, the WEF outlined four objectives:

1. Hard-wire gender parity into the post-Covid-19 world of work

  • Re-skill women to be ready for re-employment in high-growth sector
  • Have gender-sensitive workforce planning and redeployment policies and strategies

2. Close gender gaps in remuneration

  • Conduct pay reviews
  • Improve work quality and pay standards across currently low-paid essential work

3. Enable women’s participation in the labour force

  • Allow for flexible / alternative work arrangements that support diverse workforces
  • Enhance social safety nets, specifically with childcare support

4. Advance more women into management and leadership

  • Set targets for women in leadership in government and business

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