Our recent review of 240 of the world’s largest companies found that only 4% of the companies reviewed had targets set at a scale to improve the equality of women throughout the world. 96% of companies did not have targets aligned with what the world needs. See a summary of our findings here.
There are many gender inequalities, and in this blog, we focus on women. During the COVID-19 pandemic, inequalities have increased and fears of a “pink-collar recession” are looming.
The situation for women is looking bleak. In the US, their employment statement in June showed a 0.9% increase in unemployment rate for women compared to 0.7% for men . In the UK, a study suggested that women were 1/3 more likely to work in a sector that has been affected by the pandemic, such as travel and the hospitality industry. Women have also disproportionately reduced their hours with women cutting back by 11.5% compared to men cutting back by 7.5%2. The Institute for Fiscal Studies found that mothers are 47% more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their job or quit during the pandemic .
Such is the scale of this problem, that Citigroup has forecast that 31 million women globally could lose their jobs which would mean a catastrophic $1 trillion slash in global GDP. It is thought the reason for this is due to the disproportionate way women must care for family members with the virus and the 1.5 billion children who are not currently at school due to closures .
It is not only women’s bank balances that will be affected, but access to essential healthcare is also being compromised. Marie Stopes International has estimated that, due to COVID-19, ‘up to 9.5 million vulnerable women and girls risk losing access to our contraception and safe abortion services in 2020 .’
Instances of maternity discrimination have also increased for fear of transmission of the virus to a vulnerable person, or, due to pregnant women being seen a burden to companies. According to the Pregnant Then Screwed charity, 54,000 women a year already lose their job because of this, and they are concerned that there will be a rise of discrimination .
In the home, domestic violence has also had a significant upswing with 1 in 5 of the women surveyed in an American study stating that they had been the victim of domestic abuse this year. One third said that the stay at home orders and social distancing measures in place in their communities were making it impossible for them to get the support needed in the face of such violence . The United Nations Population Fund warned that the impact of a six-month lockdown would be an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence globally .
ARTICLE 13 VIEWPOINT
It is in the best interest of business to ensure that their female workers are supported to retain their jobs. It is imperative to provide adequate access to childcare in order to alleviate pressures and stress on parents. Business must act with targets at a scale to support women and girls within their organisation, but also to support initiatives and charities supporting the health and well-being of women and girls worldwide. You can help alleviate pressures on women in all areas of their lives, as well as preventing a potential $1 trillion reduction in GDP.
Are you on board for protecting and empowering women in your business and throughout the world? If you are interested in assessing the impact you could, or do, make on the world’s social thresholds please contact us