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Opinion: The Pandemic Shows It's Time Women Have Equality In The Workforce

·2 min read

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, it's evident that women are being hit the hardest by job loss and economic fallout than any other group.

Women comprise about 49% of the workforce, but April job reports revealed that women accounted for 55% of all job losses.

You probably reread that statistic, because it just doesn’t make any sense.

How is it possible that women are accounting for a larger number of lost jobs when they already make up less of the workforce?

Unpacking The Truth: The ingrained socioeconomic inequities women face are becoming worse every day. In fact, the April job losses erased a decade’s worth of progress in job gains for women.

But that’s not the only issue. Minority women are suffering the most. In April, the unemployment rate for Black women and Hispanic women increased to 16.4% and 20.2%, respectively.

Furthermore, women are more likely to hold jobs in retail and service sectors which are being forced to close or shut down as a result of the pandemic and compulsory lockdown restrictions.

See Also: What It's Like To Be A Teenager During A Global Pandemic

Don't Forget About Domestic Responsibilities: Approximately 50 million people need to consider child care obligations before returning to their jobs. Many child care centers, including daycares and schools, have been forced to close because of government mandates and declining enrollment.

If schools and child care centers can’t safely reopen, many women will not be able to reenter the labor force because they can’t leave their children unattended.

To that end, women are faced with the brunt of child care at home.

"Women with children now spend an average 65 hours a week on the unpaid chores — nearly a third more than fathers,” according to the Boston Consulting Group.

Single mothers are especially vulnerable. They're the only people responsible for ensuring their children are fed, educated, comforted and protected.

“The high levels of stress, shaming and stigma they [single mothers] face are the result of a massive disconnect between the way people live their lives and the policies that the US lacks to support them,” said Brigid Schulte, director of Better Life Lab.

The Potential For Change: In a CNBC interview, Catalyst CEO Lorraine Hariton spoke about what she called a “unique moment in time” for change.

I agree with Hariton.

We need to call on business leaders, policymakers and people with access to large constituencies to start witnessing changes.

It’s not only important to create solutions, but to focus on promoting gender justice and racial justice as we come out of this pandemic.

Sanju Swamy is a Benzinga intern.

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