The progress of the past three decades that has been made to reduce the pay gap between women and men could be compromised by the Covid-19 pandemic, warned the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a post from blog published this Tuesday.

The economic shock caused by the health crisis would affect women more than men, as they occupy more jobs in sectors severely affected, such as service industries, retail, tourism or hotels.

Telecommuting is not an option for many women

“In the United States, female unemployment was two percentage points higher than that of men between April and June 2020,” notes Kristalina Georgieva, who co-signed the post with three other IMF officials.

Due to the nature of their jobs, many women have not been able to telework (about 54% of women in the United States and 67% in Brazil).

Women also shoulder the majority of family responsibilities resulting from lockdown measures such as school closings, IMF officials say. And once the measures are lifted, it takes longer for women to find full-time employment.

In Canada, an employment report in May showed that women’s employment rose 1.1%, compared to men’s 2.4%, due to childcare issues.

Without education, a cycle of perpetual poverty

In many developing countries, young girls are forced to drop out of school and work to supplement household income.

In India, since the entry into force of the lockdown, organized marriages for young girls have increased by 30%. “Without education, these girls suffer a permanent loss of human capital […] perpetuating the cycle of poverty among women, ”lament the authors.

The authors cite positive initiatives to promote women’s recovery in Austria, Italy, Portugal and Slovenia, where a statutory right to (partially) paid leave for parents with children below a certain age has been established.

France had extended sick leave to parents affected by school closures if no support or other way of working could not be found.