The 2008 financial and economic crisis was characterised by greater job losses in male-dominated sectors, notably construction and manufacturing. Women actually often compensated for men’s losses by entering the labour market. The net result was an increase in hours worked by women. During the recovery phase, however, men’s employment improved more quickly than women’s employment in many countries.
This crisis is different in nature to previous ones, and given that the scale of the economic impact is still emerging, it is difficult to make firm predictions on whether and to what extent the crisis may disproportionately affect women’s jobs, business and incomes. Still, there are several valid concerns around the impact the crisis may have on women’s economic outcomes. Early data from Canada on the impact of the Covid-19 crisis shows that this time too, male employment is rising more quickly after lockdown than that of women.
Like in the 2008 crisis, this time too we are seeing just how important it is to provide affordable good quality child care to families and, even more, for single parents who are predominantly female. As families have been juggling telework, home schooling and broader care and domestic work responsibilities women have once more been carrying the largest part of the burden. Without comprehensive childcare and family policies, but also a better distribution of unpaid work in the home, women risk losing a large part of their advances in the labour market, setting them back decades in the fight for equal work and equal pay.
Copyright: Philippe LOPEZ / AFP