Women + the economic recession = the ‘she-cession’ . . .
Unlike during the 2009 economic recession, which affected the male employment rate more than the female employment rate, several analysts are calling the 2020 economic recession the “she-cession.” While the pandemic has caused job losses across the board, the numbers from the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand, show that more women than men have lost their jobs. Studies indicate that female-dominated sectors such as hospitality, child care, and education have been especially affected by the pandemic. Meanwhile, a 2016 study by StatsCan shows that workplace automation can harm women disproportionately. According to the International Labour Organization, the global unemployment rate for females in 2020 is estimated to be 5.62 per cent compared to 5.29 per cent for men.
India’s female workforce . . .
In India, female participation in the workforce, at 20 per cent, is less than half of the global average (46.9%). In 2020, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, 39 per cent of women in India reported job loss due to COVID-19, compared to 29 per cent of men. There are a host of different issues behind this discrepancy. They include disproportionate domestic responsibilities, with Indian women spending five hours a day on housework compared to 1.5 hours a day for men; unfair working conditions; unsafe public transit (worsened by the pandemic); child care responsibilities and limited child-care facilities for working women; and, workplace violence and abuse. According to Oxfam India, women’s unemployment during the pandemic will cost the Indian economy about C$284 billion.
Workplace violence, abuse and vulnerability . . .
In both the formal and informal sectors, workplace violence and abuse in India are governed by the 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, or the POSH Act. But according to a recently released report by Human Rights Watch, the Indian government has failed to implement the laws effectively. The vast majority (95 per cent) of the female workforce in India is employed in the informal sector, for example, as domestic workers, street vendors, or agricultural labourers. But with little awareness of the laws meant to protect them or how to seek redress, the women are left vulnerable. This has resulted in silence about the abuse and violence meted out to women at their workplace. Economic vulnerability and stigma further lead most women to shy away from making a formal complaint.
- The Globe and Mail: ‘It’s a question of survival now’: Pandemic puts India’s women even further behind economically
- Global News: Welcome to the ‘she-session.’ Why this recession is different
- Human Rights Watch: India: Women at risk of sexual abuse at work