NEW DELHI: A new report highlights that women are likely to bear the brunt of job losses during the pandemic because much of their work is invisible, and they are likely to work in informal work arrangements. An Oxfam India report — “The Inequality Virus” in a section on livelihood draws upon reports and data to point that women who were employed before the lockdown are also 23.5 percentage points less likely to be re-employed compared to men in the post-lockdown phase.
The report cites different data sets, reports and surveys to underline the increasing inequalities in the backdrop of the pandemic in a wide range of sectors and the growing gaps in sectors like education, health and livelihood among others.
In a section on “Women bear the Brunt”, it is pointed that 17 million women lost their jobs in April 2020. Therefore, unemployment for women rose by 15% from a pre-lockdown level of 18%. This increase in unemployment of women can result in a loss to India’s GDP of about 8% or $218 billion.
It is also pointed that the work-from-home culture has also blurred the lines between working hours and personal downtime. Women have been working longer hours and simultaneously managing the daily chores of the household, the educational needs of the children and care for all members of the family.
The report said frontline health workers such as ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists) whose work can be seen as an extension of care work have experienced a phenomenal increase in their work. “But the remuneration is way too measly — a mere Rs 1,000 for the Covid-19 duties assigned to them. It is estimated that if India’s top 11 billionaires are taxed at just 1% on their wealth, the government can pay the average wage of the nine lakh ASHA workers in the country for 5 years,” said the report.
Reflecting on the overall scenario, the report highlights that the economic fallout of the pandemic manifested in job losses and salary cuts for both informal and formal sectors. “The job loss for the low-income households with no other alternative earnings and no social security has been the most troubling and will find it extremely difficult to cope with and recover from the slowdown,” pointed out the report.