Throughout the pandemic, US jobs reports centered around the hundreds of thousands of Americans who filed for unemployment as a result of covid making some jobs, and swaths of industries, temporarily obsolete. Oxfam International released a report examining this issue globally and found that women were most harshly impacted by loss of income, to the tune of $800 billion.
Oxfam’s executive director, Gabriela Bucher, told CNN, “Economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic is having a harsher impact on women, who are disproportionately represented in sectors offering low wages, few benefits and the least secure jobs.” However, this astronomical number quoted by Oxfam is considered a “conservative estimate” because the research that was conducted didn’t include wages lost by women working in the “informal economy.” Women who are considered “domestic workers, market vendors, [or] garment workers” are considered a part of the informal economy.
This extreme loss in work and income only worsened the existing issues facing women at work, such as income inequality, insufficient leave options for parents, and a systemic effort to keep women out of higher-paying positions. While there was progress being made at a glacial pace, the pandemic has set women back years, possibly decades, in the efforts for an equitable workplace.
Despite recent initiatives targeted at getting women and families back on their feet—expanded eligibility for vaccinations, the extension of free lunch programs, Biden’s Families First plan—women across the globe will need a full overhaul of various systems if there’s any hope of regaining lost ground. Bucher’s thoughts on the next phase suggested stronger infrastructures supporting women’s employment but she was sure to add one immutable fact: “Recovery from Covid-19 is impossible without women recovering.”