Latin America: UN Report Finds Pandemic May Cost Latin American Women a Decade of Gains

February 25, 2021

As reported by Reuters, a United Nations report found that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to erase ten years of female economic progress in Latin America, as many women have been forced to give up on work or are struggling to find jobs. 
 
Female participation in the workforce across Latin American fell six percent in 2020 to 46%, according to the UN report which was issued by the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (CEPAL). During the same period, men’s participation fell from 73.6% to 69%. Meanwhile, in the previous three decades, female participation had increased by 11%, faster than any other region in the world. 
 
Increased childcare and unpaid domestic duties have fallen more heavily on women, who also make up a higher percentage of workers in industries hit hardest by the pandemic, such as retail and hospitality. According to the report, “the economic and social effects of the pandemic are expected to have a significant impact on the autonomy of women.”
 
The report recommended using fiscal policy to create job opportunities, eliminate barriers to women entering the growing digital sector, and guaranteeing access to finance for female entrepreneurs, among other steps. “Its fundamental to create a new fiscal pact that promotes gender equality and that avoids deepening the poverty levels of women,” said Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of CEPAL.