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The impact of crises are never gender-neutral and Covid-19 is no exception. The pandemic has hit women harder than men. About 3million women in the US have dropped out of the workforce over the past year, many of which will never return. At 56%, women’s laborforce participation rate in the US is at its lowest level since 1987. Women’s jobs are estimated to be 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s. As such, the current recession differs sharply from previous recessions. A few years ago, the term “man-cession” gained traction to describe the disproportionate impact of recessions on men’s employment. Now we talk about the“ she-cession.”
One reason for this disparity is that the pandemic increased the burden of unpaid care, which is disproportionately carried by women. Another is that female employment is concentrated in “contact-intensive” service sectors that were strongly affected by the shutdown and social distancing measures.
The consequences of the “she-cession” will long outlast the recession itself. Workers who lose employment during a recession experience highly persistent earnings losses. Because women have lost many more jobs than men in this recession, earnings losses will push down the average earnings of women in the economy and raise the gender pay gap. In a gender-regressive scenario in which no action is taken to counter these effects, a McKinsey study estimates that global GDP growth could be $1trillion lower in 2030 than it would be if women’s unemployment simply tracked that of men in each sector.
Governments and policy-makers are coming under mounting pressure to produce a targeted women’s strategy to tackle the unequal economic and domestic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Gender equality and economic growth goes hand in hand, but how can we ensure gender equal economic growth in the aftermath of the“she-cession” and Covid-19?
In this roundtable, a diverse panel from Nordic countries moderated by NYCEDC, will share and discuss different points of view on how historical learnings hold an impact on the recovery of the pandemic, and how gender equality can be ensured and support economic growth from a political point of view going forward.
- Faye Penn, Executive Director at women.nyc and Sr. VP, Initiatives at NYCEDC (United States)
- Karin Standås, State Secretary to the Minister for gender equality and housing, Ministry of Employment (Sweden)
- Sandra Moerch, Chief Content Director at SAP, Purpose & Sustainability Marketing (Denmark)
- Hugrún R. Hjaltadóttir, Specialist, Department of Equality at the Prime Minister's Office (Iceland)
The panel is hosted by the Nordic Consulates in New York and @NYCEDC. Supported by The Nordic Council of Ministers.