Gender Inequality is a term that has swept deep into the job market. Even after consistent efforts into bringing women to the forefront, less than a third of women in India aged 15 years or older are actively working, according to the World Bank. And coronavirus is here to worsen the situation.
- Nearly 25 million jobs will be lost globally due to coronavirus. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation And Development (OECD), jobs created after a crisis mostly target men, leaving women unemployed for a longer duration.
- Owing to economic uncertainty, informal and part-time jobs stand at the forefront of jobs that are most likely of being suspended. In India, almost 94 percent of the total women workers are engaged in the informal sector, according to the 2011 International Conference on Economics and Finance Research.
- The economic crisis after coronavirus is bound to result in lower demands, hence lesser manufacturing. According to OECD, women make up 60 to 80 percent of the export manufacturing workers in developing countries, including India.
- As a crisis response, India's fiscal stimulus for 200 million poor women is just $6.65 per head, each month for the next three months. But the question remains- what after that, and is this amount sufficient?
Global Job Crisis
Coronavirus is an unprecedented crisis, at a time when India was already witnessing the longest economic slowdown in the past 23 years. Even globally, as a result of the pandemic, 25 million jobs are all set to be lost, maybe even more than that. "This crisis is a terrible disaster for the Indian job market. Already we have millions of workers who have lost their jobs. And there are many others who have lost their wages over this period. For most of the self-employed workers, their activities are no longer viable. We are actually looking at the absolute devastation of the Indian labour market. The impact of this crisis will be widespread, engulfing every sector in the job market. There's no guarantee that even the most basic sectors like agriculture will be employing people," Jayati Ghosh, Chairperson of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, told SheThePeople.
Jobs After Crises Mostly Target Men
Will the job market be affected? Yes. But will it further affect everyone equally? No. There is a chance of gender inequality when it comes to the job market after the crisis has ended. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation And Development, jobs created during and after an economic crisis mostly target men, and this is where women find it difficult to spring back. Also, since consumption plummets during an economic crisis, both export and import are heavily impacted. Women form 60 to 80 percent of export manufacturing workers in developing countries and hence, till the revival of the economy, they’re mostly left jobless.
Women Are The First To Be Expelled Amidst Job Crisis
"Across the world, when there's a shortage of jobs, then women actually get thrown out of the labour market. In India, we already have one of the lowest women labour participation rates in the world, even before this crisis. So now, this will result in almost a disappearance of women except in some public employment sectors. This is the time when the government should be expanding its employment opportunities and also that it should be giving women proper terms and conditions and wages. Most women employed in the government sector are actually scheme workers like Ashas, etc. They don't even get the minimum wage. Therefore, it is the time to ensure that they do not only get the minimum wages, but also decent conditions, protective equipment and all of that, " adds Ghosh.
Massive Fiscal Stimulus Needed To Neutralize The Situation
Adding on how things can be neutralized for the women employees, Ghosh adds, "These crises are forces beyond your control. One person individually may or may not be able to tide over, but this is a very broad, macro situation. So, it is not up to women employees themselves to deal with the situation. This is the time when we need a massive fiscal stimulus. And so all women workers should be demanding from the government. Not just the current 0.5 percent of the GDP. Other countries are doing 10-15 percent of their GDP. We should be demanding a major fiscal stimulus which should be invested majorly in health, and massively expand public employment," she adds further.
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