Progress for women at work could return to 2017 levels by the end of 2021 as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, according to an analysis conducted for PwC’s annual Women at Work Index, which measures economic empowerment. of women in 33 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Over nine years, OECD countries made consistent progress in this area; However, due to the pandemic, this trend will now be reversed, and the Index is estimated to fall 2.1 points between 2019 and 2021; and it will begin to level in 2022, where it should recover 0.8 points.
To repair the impact caused by 2030, progress towards gender equality must be twice as fast as its historical rate.
Celso Malimpensa, Country Territory Partner of PwC in Ecuador points out that “the report reveals that the pandemic has affected sectors with a considerable amount of female employment, existing inequalities in unpaid domestic and care work have also increased.”
Between 2019 and 2020, the OECD annual unemployment rate increased by 1.7 percentage points for women (from 5.7% in 2019 to 7.4% in 2020).
For example, in the US, the female unemployment rate rose sharply from 4% in March 2020 to 16% in April 2020.
The female unemployment rate remained high for the rest of 2020, ending the year in December 2020 at 6.7%, 3 percentage points more than in December 2019.
Unpaid child care
Before COVID-19, women spent an average of six hours more than men caring for children (according to UN Women research).
In 2020, women took on an even greater participation and now spend 7.7 more hours a week than men. This equates to 31.5 hours per week.
“This increase in unpaid work has already reduced women’s contribution to the economy. If this additional burden lasts, it will cause more women to leave the labor market permanently, reversing progress towards gender equality and reducing productivity in the economy (…) The pace of progress towards gender equality will need to accelerate to recover from this setback, ”says Malimpensa.
While some women may choose to leave the workforce temporarily with the intention of returning after the pandemic, research shows that career interruptions have a long-term impact on the outlook for the female job market.
If OECD countries increased their female employment rates to match Sweden’s (always top performers), the gain to GDP would be more than $ 6 trillion per year.
Society must challenge gender inequalities and biases in the workforce to have a greater impact on empowerment and valuable contributions to economic and social growth.
The five indicators that make up the PwC Women in Work Index are: the gender pay gap; female participation in the labor force; the gap between male and female participation in the labor force; female unemployment and the full-time female employment rate.
The Annual Women at Work Index uses OECD data (actual data) for 2019.
To assess the potential impact of covid-19 on the Index, OECD forecasts on the size of the labor market and the unemployment rate were used to estimate the Index in 2020, 2021 and 2022. (I)