The PwC Index “Women in Work” specifies that by the end of 2021, progress on women's participation in the labor market will return to 2017 levels
According to the findings of the PwC “Women in Work” Index, the progress regarding the participation of women in the labor market, due to COVID-19, will decrease by the end of 2021, returning to the levels of 2017. The Index is published every year and records the economic empowerment of women in 33 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) *. Based on the evidence, it appears that women are disproportionately affected by both the effects of COVID-19 and the recovery policies and measures taken by governments.
Over the past nine years, OECD countries have made steady progress in empowering women. However, according to the relevant analysis of the “Women in Work” Index of PwC, the pandemic reverses the progress that has been made. The projected decrease of the Index amounts, in the period 2019-2021, to 2.1 points, while the Index is not expected to recover before 2022, when it is estimated to recover 0.8 points.
To be able to reverse the damage caused by the pandemic to women's labor market participation by 2030, progress on gender equality must be twice as fast as it is today.
The burden of unpaid childcare for women is disproportionate
Prior to the pandemic, women spent, on average, six hours more each week than men on unpaid child care (according to a survey by the UN Office for Gender Equality – UN Women). During the pandemic, women took on an even greater share of responsibility, devoting 7.7 more hours a week to unpaid childcare than men **. Taking into account these data, the total number of hours per week is 31.5 hours, which corresponds almost to a full-time job.
This increase in unpaid work has already led to a reduction in the contribution of women to the economy. If these new data are maintained, the result will be even more women leaving the labor market permanently, thus reversing the progress made on gender equality and reducing the productivity of the economy.
And while some women may choose to leave the job market temporarily due to COVID-19, with the intention of returning after the pandemic, research shows that career interruptions have a long-term impact on women's career prospects, which ultimately return to lower paid jobs that require less specialization.
“Women in Work” index (performance before the COVID-19 pandemic)
Among the OECD countries, Iceland maintains the first place in the Index, while Greece recorded the largest increase in the Index in the period 2018-2019, as a result of the improvement in all labor market indicators, with the exception of the share of women in positions. full time. In contrast, during the same period, Portugal saw the largest decline in the Index due to the widening of the gender pay gap.
It is worth noting that an increase in female employment rates in OECD countries to the level of Sweden (which consistently has the best performance) would result in an annual GDP growth of over US $ 6 trillion.