Women Informal Work and Instability
More women typically work in the informal sector, holding less secure jobs and earning less than men. With the pandemic, women working in the informal sector faced a sharp decline in capacity to earn a living. In the first month of the crisis, informal workers globally lost an average of 60% of their income. The drop was 81% in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, 70% in Europe and Central Asia, and 22% in Asia and the Pacific (UN Women, 2021). Many women are also juggling increases in unpaid care and domestic work. Recent study involving France, Germany, Italy, UK and US found that working women on average do 15 hours more a week of unpaid care and domestic work compared to men. In self-isolation, men are contributing more, but women continue to do more. Single mothers have no one to share the care burden with and are more likely to work for low pay and in vulnerable occupations (Boston Consulting Group, 2020).
The stress of balancing work and family life is taking a severe toll on women’s well-being. In a recent poll in the United States, 32% of women reported suffering from anxiety as a result of the pandemic, in comparison to 24 % of men. lt also found greater insomnia among women, 22% compared to 13% for men. Similarly, surveys in China and Hong Kong found women were more likely than men to suffer from anxiety (IPSOS, 2020).
We need to share the added burden of unpaid domestic and care work at home and speak up for a gender-aware response to pandemic, including supporting women in the informal sector. Social and economic support must reflect women’s labour outside and within the home and their status in society. It needs to address how to adapt accountability structures so that aid interventions can be accessed by hard-to-reach and marginalized women (UN Women, 2021).