The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on employment and labor conditions for women in Latin America and the Caribbean, generating a setback of more than a decade in terms of the progress achieved in labor market participation.
The rate of job market participation by women was at 46% in 2020, while for men it was 69%. It is further estimated that the unemployment rate for women reached 12% in 2020, a percentage that rises to 22.2% if we factor in women’s participation in the labor force in 2019. In 2020 there was a mass exodus of women from the labor force, who have not returned to search for employment, having to attend to care demands at home. 56.9% of women in Latin America and 54.3% in the Caribbean are employed in sectors where the pandemic is expected to have a higher negative impact in terms of employment and income.
The women of the region are a crucial part of the frontline response to the pandemic. Some 73.2% of people employed in the health sector are women, who have had to face extreme working conditions such as long work days, in addition to increased risk of contagion as health personnel. All of this in a regional context in which salary discrimination persists, where salaries for women who work in the health sector are 23.7% less than men’s in the same sector.
In addition to having a gender perspective that cuts across all recovery policies, affirmative actions are required in the areas of fiscal, labor, productive, economic and social policies to protect the rights of women achieved in the past decade, prevent setbacks and take on gender inequalities in the short, medium and long terms.