The evidence compiled by ECLAC in the “Social Panorama of Latin America” shows the “disproportionate” impact that the economic crisis, generated by the pandemic, has had on working women. Female inclusion in the labor market fell 12 years, in the context of a reduction in employment of 18.1% and an exit from the labor force of 15.4%.
These are figures that exceed the impact of 15.1% and 11.8%, respectively in the case of men, for whom, in addition to “a sustained recovery” is observed, which is far from the dynamics observed in the case of men. women. In fact, as of September 2020 the participation rate for men reached 72.7% from the minimum of 61.1% in May, while in the case of women, in the same period it rose to 40.2% from 35%.
“These results are related to the fact that women are inserted in more precarious work conditions and participate in a greater proportion in informal occupations (54.3% compared to 52.3% of men)”, They specify in the report, where they also state that 56.9% of women work in sectors considered to be at high risk of being affected by the pandemic.
It is about service as in hotels and restaurants, as well as in domestic service. In fact, with a drop of 46.3%, Chile was one of the countries where paid employment in households decreased the most, although it is not far from countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica, where the drop also exceeded 40% –
On the other hand, the coronavirus made visible “the importance of care tasks for the sustainability of life, as well as their unfair distribution to the detriment of women, on whom these tasks fall mainly, among which now also includes the effort to give continuity to the studies of their children, ”says ECLAC, for which “The current sexual division of labor and the social organization of care persist as one of the structural nodes of inequality in the region”.
As indicated in the report of more than 200 pages, it is possible to foresee that these inequities will “worsen in the context of the pandemic, undermining the full exercise of women’s rights and their autonomy”.
But this complex photograph is not only linked to the pandemic, hence the concerns regarding the economic recovery and the future. The organism indicates that the aging of the population implies “an increase in the demand for care and a decrease in the supply. This shortage of potential carers can lead to an overload of unpaid work for women ”.
After all, as Cepal itself maintains, it is women who have historically been held responsible for care, as indicated by the proportion of hours of the day that they dedicate to housework and unpaid care.
“The current model of social organization of care is no longer sustainable. This is based on families and is maintained thanks to the unpaid work of women, without sufficient state and market mechanisms to assume social responsibility for care, ”the report reads.
For this reason they propose that “public policies establish mechanisms that institute the right to care and to be cared for.” That way, It should be aimed at “consolidating the autonomy of women, the inclusion of the care economy in the crisis mitigation and reactivation plans”, which in turn has the potential to contribute to higher growth in the overall economy.
Bias in reactivation
On the other hand, the UN body focused on the region, highlights that “by not incorporating a gender perspective in response actions (to the pandemic), gender inequalities could be deepened.”
In fact, stimulus packages aimed at mitigating the effects of crises associated with the generation and protection of employment and the provision of subsidies to the poorest households and, in general, “do not always have a positive effect on the autonomy of women”.
In the context of this analysis, ECLAC identifies biases in the policies deployed at the regional level to contain the economic effects of the pandemic. The first one refers to gender roles in relation to the labor market, persisting the prejudice that women’s paid work constitutes a secondary contribution to family income.
Depending on this, state aid tends to prioritize masculinized sectors in employment generation policies, such as mining, construction or energy. At the same time, an “absence of policies that allow an effective redistribution of care work is perceived”.