IMF urges swift action to protect women from Covid-19 economic hit | Business

IMF urges swift action to protect women from Covid-19 economic hit | Business


Governments around the world have been warned by the International Monetary Fund to take swift action to limit the economic damage for women that has been unleashed by Covid-19.

Sounding the alarm over the disproportionate impact on women amid the worst global recession since the 1930s Great Depression, the Washington-based organisation said the pandemic threatened to roll back gains in women’s economic opportunities, widening gender gaps that persist despite 30 years of progress.

The IMF said governments needed to use the full power of their tax and spending toolkit to extend income support to the most vulnerable people, protect employment and provide incentives to balance work and family care responsibilities.

Warning of the impact for women around the world, it said policies could be designed to tackle gender inequality by creating the right conditions and incentives for women to work. It said investing in education and infrastructure, subsidising childcare and offering parental leave would be vital to a sustainable recovery from Covid-19.

Some countries had already moved quickly to adopt some of these policies, the IMF said. But, it added, all governments should improve access to health care and family planning services, extend support for small businesses and the self-employed, and eliminate legal barriers against women’s economic empowerment as a priority.

In a blog, Kristalina Georgieva, the director of the IMF, wrote: “These policies are not only crucial to lift constraints on women’s economic empowerment, they are necessary to promote an inclusive post-Covid-19 recovery.”

“It is crucial that policymakers adopt measures to limit the scarring effects of the pandemic on women.”

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The IMF warned that women were more likely than men to work in social sectors – such as services industries, retail, tourism, and hospitality – that required face-to-face interactions and had been hit hardest by social distancing measures.

Following the widespread use of lockdown controls around the world in response to the pandemic, it said women tended to do up to 2.7 hours more unpaid household work than men each day. “They bear the brunt of family care responsibilities resulting from shutdown measures such as school closures and precautions for vulnerable elderly parents. After shutdown measures have been lifted, women are slower to return to full employment,” it added.

Earlier this year, the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that low-paid workers, young people and women were likely to be the hardest hit by lockdown measures in the UK. The thinktank also found working mothers have been able to do only one hour of uninterrupted paid work for every three hours done by men during lockdown, in a study exposing the work imbalance between men and women.



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