The COVID-19 pandemic has created permanently destroyed industries across the world. Even after a year, the pandemic has left a damaged and distinctive mark on the women workforce. Gender equity has scaled back to decades ago, and an estimated $64.5 billion per year is expected to be lost in wages and economic activity from working women.
Why have women been affected severely?
Women are usually forced to undertake greater household and caretaking responsibilities even during pre-covid times. With work from home models and a collapsing child care sector, mothers are leaving the labour force or reducing their working hours drastically. Data has proved that women in the formal economy across the world are dropping out due to extreme stress and burnout caused by work from home.
LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index-Wave 10 report stated, “More than 46 per cent of working mothers report working till late to make up for work, and 42 per cent are unable to focus on work with their children at home.” Every one in three working mothers reported providing childcare full-time, compared with nearly one in five working fathers.
Is there any evidence of working women being affected?
Data has proved that the number of women working in the formal economy across the world is plummeting due to burnouts caused by work from home. This has led to a complete decline in mental health, motivation levels and women are discouraged to work in the future because of the insecurity and lack of social support.
In a survey conducted by Deloitte, 89% of respondents said demands on their personal time and daily routine have changed due to the pandemic, with 92% of that group indicating that these shifts have had a negative impact. Additionally, the number of women who say they are responsible for the majority of caregiving responsibilities (e.g. childcare or care of other family members) has nearly tripled to 48% during the pandemic compared to their caring responsibilities prior to COVID-19.
Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement show that Hispanic women—of any race—and Black women are far more likely than white and Asian women to be single heads of households and, therefore, the main source of support for their family. These further skyrocketing responsibilities are destroying opportunities available to women in the workforce.
What does the future hold?
The World Economic predicted that it will take an average of 135.6 years to reach parity between women and men on economic opportunity, political power, education and health after the destructive effect of the pandemic.
However, there is a prominent glimmer of hope. Employers and businesses are uniting to support women and honour them in these difficult times.
For example, as part of their $1 million pledge towards tackling rising gender inequality, Secret will support over 100,000 women and their families across the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) USA network. The deodorant brand will help pay for childcare, workforce development and barrier reduction programs and services. Their campaign, called ‘Secret Missions,’ spans across 12 communities that continue to be impacted by the pandemic and the donation will help these communities reenter the workforce with jobs that can substantially help provide and care for their families.
Moreover, it has also launched a documentary series called ‘Secret Superhero Moms,’ as a tribute to resilient mothers across the nation who continue to provide for their children despite growing obstacles. The docuseries highlights stories of 3 superhero moms from YWCA who have suffered from financial hardships during the pandemic and were unable to benefit from childcare. This documentary generated a wave of awareness and helped remind women that they are inspirations across communities.
Chico’s FAS, an American clothing retailer has also implemented an organizational tone of compassion in the form of numerous benefits. These benefits include an on-site daycare centre for all parents, health counsellors, virtual yoga sessions to help women manage pandemic stress and anxiety. It has also made sure that women have the same access to promotions, with more than half of internal promotions being granted to women.
Conclusively, while some businesses are extending support towards struggling working women, there is a capacity for countless more to offer assistance and reverse the devastating effect of COVID-19 on its employees and community.