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THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON WOMEN IN VULNERABLE SECTORS AND ECONOMIES

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

We need a solution for COVID 19 impacts on Tourism Industry





KEY POINTS:

• Women are at risk of suffering more than men from the trade disruption generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the reasons for this is that a larger share of women works in sectors and types of firms that have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

• Women make up a larger share of the workforce in the manufacturing sectors, such as textiles, apparel, footwear and telecommunication products, that experienced some of the largest falls in export growth during the first months of the pandemic. For example, female employees represent 80 per cent of the workforce in ready-made garment production in Bangladesh, in which industry orders declined by 45.8 per cent over the first quarter of 2020, and by 81 per cent in April alone.

• A larger share of women than men works in services, such as tourism and business travel services, that have been directly affected by regional and international travel restrictions.

• A large share of firms owned or managed by women are micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and lower levels of financial resources and limited access to public funds are placing the survival of such businesses at greater risk.

• The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be particularly significant for women in least-developed and developing economies because fewer women than men are employed in these economies in occupations which can be undertaken remotely, and a larger share of women is employed in sectors highly exposed to international travel restrictions.

• The effects of the pandemic are aggravating existing vulnerabilities. Many channels through which COVID-19 is having a greater impact on women are those at the heart of gender inequalities, such as lower wages for women, fewer educational opportunities, limited access to finance, greater reliance on informal employment and social constraints. Limited access to digital technologies and lower rates of information technology (IT) skills further reduce women's opportunities for teleworking and e-commerce, and thus for adapting to the current crisis.

• Many governments have adopted a broad range of support measures to help individuals and businesses. Some of these measures, mainly social protection initiatives adopted by some central or local governments, are specifically targeted at women.

• Maintaining open trade during the economic recovery period is key to building faster and more inclusive growth

. • The joint World Bank and World Trade Organization report on trade and gender, "Women and Trade: the role of trade in promoting gender equality", published in July 2020, highlights ways in which trade can continue to benefit women in the post-COVID-19 recovery period.


However, this crisis is having a different impact on previous global crises. Past recessions have typically had a greater negative impact on men's employment because more men work in sectors most exposed to business cycles, such as construction and manufacturing, while women’s employment is concentrated in relatively less cyclical sectors, such as education and healthcare. The COVID-19 recession is likely to have a harsher impact on female workers and entrepreneurs because the sectors in which they are economically active are among those most affected by lockdown and distancing measures. Many women are employed in jobs which have been critical to the COVID-19 response, such as health and social care, and in essential sectors, such as sales of food and other necessary goods. 6 This has meant continued employment but also greater exposure to the virus. At the same time, women are disproportionately represented in a large number of activities requiring face-to-face interactions, such as retail, which prevents them from telecommuting


Travel restrictions and border closures have severely affected trade in services, especially in sectors dependent on people travelling abroad, such as tourism. In manufacturing, the disruption of business travel and the lockdown have had a particularly large impact on sectors dependent on global value chains, as well as on season-sensitive sectors in which many women work, such as textiles and clothing. Keeping international markets open during the COVID-19 pandemic has been crucial in providing affordable access to essential food and medical products. The pandemic has also highlighted how the temporary movement of healthcare workers, of whom many are women, has particularly helped the most affected countries to deal with the crisis. Maintaining open markets during the recovery period is key to building faster, more inclusive growth. As economies emerge from the pandemic crisis, governments may find economic recovery strengthened if they specifically address the constraints faced by women. For example, in some sectors, teleworking has proved to be a tool to mitigate the impact of the crisis, but access to digital connections and IT skills rates are much lower for women in certain economies. In addition, lower financial resources and inequality of access to public funds put the survival of women's businesses at greater risk.

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