COVID-19 cost women over $800B in lost income: Report

By Ovunc Kutlu

ANKARA (AA) – The coronavirus pandemic has cost women around the world more than $800 billion in lost income in a year, according to a report by nonprofit group Oxfam on Thursday.

While the amount is equal to more than the combined gross domestic product of 98 countries, it is also more than $721.5 billion that the US spent in 2020 on the world’s largest defense budget, it added.

"This conservative estimate doesn’t even include wages lost by the millions of women working in the informal economy —domestic workers, market vendors and garment workers— who have been sent home or whose hours and wages have been drastically cut," Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said in a statement.

As a comparison, women lost more than 64 million jobs last year, which is a 5% loss against 3.9% loss for men.

"Economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is having a harsher impact on women, who are disproportionately represented in sectors offering low wages, few benefits and the least secure jobs," Bucher said.

The report noted that women are more likely than men to drop out of the workforce or reduce their hours during the pandemic. Women and girls put in 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work every day before the pandemic, which is a contribution to the global economy of at least $10.8 trillion a year — more than three times the size of the global tech industry.

"For women in every country on every continent, along with losing income, unpaid care work has exploded. As care needs have spiked during the pandemic, women —the shock absorbers of our societies— have stepped in to fill the gap, an expectation so often imposed by sexist social norms," Bucher said.

An additional 47 million women around the world are expected to fall into extreme poverty this year, Oxfam said, noting closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years due to negative outcomes, according to the World Economic Forum.