The COVID-19 pandemic could compromise the progress made by women in the last three decades to reduce the economic gap that separates them from men, stated an IMF blog post on Tuesday.
The health crisis, which is going to generate a decrease in the global GDP of 4.9%, affects more women than men since they occupy more jobs in more affected sectors such as the service industry, retail trade or the hospitality.
In the United States, about 54% of women work in sectors where they cannot work remotely, and in Brazil this percentage reaches 67%.
Also, women are more likely than men to be employed in the informal sector in low-income countries. Informal employment – often compensated in cash with no official oversight – leaves women with lower pay, no protection of labor laws, and no benefits such as pensions or health insurance.
The IMF noted that women are also burdened to do more unpaid domestic work. On average about 2.7 hours a day.
"In many developing countries, young girls are forced to drop out of school and work to supplement household income," the IMF said.
And once the economy opens, the situation does not improve as experts warned that it is more difficult for women to find full-time work.
The IMF stressed that it is crucial that policymakers take steps to limit the adverse effects of the pandemic on women.
In this sense, the entity praised the Latin American Coalition to Empower Women, created in April at the behest of the Vice Presidency of Colombia and Costa Rica and ECLAC.
It also welcomed measures taken in Austria, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia to give paid, albeit partial, leave to parents with children under a certain age and also highlighted an initiative by France to give permission to parents affected by the closure of schools.