July 21, 2020 - By Kristalina Georgieva, Stefania Fabrizio, Cheng Hoon Lim, and Marina M. Tavares
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities, widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress.
Well-designed policies to foster recovery can mitigate the negative effects of the crisis on women and prevent further setbacks for gender equality. What is good for women is ultimately good for addressing income inequality, economic growth, and resilience.
Why has COVID-19 had disproportionate effects on women and their economic status? There are several reasons.
First, women are more likely than men to work in social sectors — such as services industries, retail, tourism, and hospitality — that require face-to-face interactions. These sectors are hit hardest by social distancing and mitigation measures. In the United States, unemployment among women was two percentage points higher than men between April-June 2020.
Because of the nature of their jobs, teleworking is not an option for many women. In the United States, about 54 percent of women working in social sectors cannot telework. In Brazil, it is 67 percent. In low-income countries, at most only about 12 percent of the population is able to work remotely.