Covid-19 Threatens to Undo Women’s Economic Progress, IMF Says

Covid-19 could roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities after 30 years of progress, the International Monetary Fund said.

Women are especially vulnerable to the negative economic effects of the pandemic because they are are more likely to work in industries that are sensitive to lockdowns and tend to be employed in the informal sector in low-income countries, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and others said in a blog published Tuesday. Females often do more unpaid housework than men, and are more at risk of dropping out of school in developing countries due to Covid-19, they said.

In the U.S., the unemployment rate for working-age women was 1.1 percentage points above the reading for men in June, compared to a typically equal rate before the pandemic and resulting recession, according to data from the Department of Labor.

Covid-19 Threatens to Undo Women’s Economic Progress, IMF Says

“It is crucial that policy makers adopt measures to limit the scarring effects of the pandemic on women,” they said. These policies could include extending income support to the vulnerable and improved access to health care -- and over the long term, creating conditions and incentives for women to work.

The post referenced existing policies to address women’s economic situation, including a right to partially paid leave for parents with children below a certain age, a coalition to increase women’s economic participation and a grant program for informal workers. Austria, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, France, Latin America and Togo have each instituted some of these measures.

“These policies are not only crucial to lift constraints on women’s economic empowerment, they are necessary to promote an inclusive post-Covid-19 recovery,” the fund said.

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