Less than half of women globally have jobs and the pandemic has made things worse, UN warns | News | DW | 20.10.2020
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Less than half of women globally have jobs and the pandemic has made things worse, UN warns

The World's Women 2020 report has found a severe lack of progress in women's rights and job market participation. The dire situation has only been made worse by the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the UN has reported.

The United Nations lamented the slow pace of progress in women's rights globally and warned of a further slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a report published on Tuesday.

The World's Women 2020 report found that the world has only achieved modest gains in terms of women's rights and economic empowerment and that according to measures of employment and domestic violence, the situation has not improved since the first report 25 years ago.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that "progress towards equal power and equal rights for women remains elusive."

"No country has achieved gender equality, and the COVID-19 crisis threatens to erode the limited gains that have been made," he added.

Women bearing the brunt of the fight against coronavirus

The report also found that while men have a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 related problems, women were more likely to be infected — women make up 70% of health care workers on the front lines against the infection.

Read more: COVID-19 places extra burden on African women

"They are at high risk of contracting the disease, and they are also, of course, at the frontlines fighting the pandemic on behalf of everyone," said Francesca Grum, UN chief social and gender statistician, at a virtual media conference.

Watch video 03:58

Are women paying the price for COVID-19?

Lockdowns also likely increased the risk of domestic violence, according to the report. Data already showed that 18% of women reported experiencing physical and/or sexual violence from their partner in the past 12 months.

"While robust statistics on the impact of COVID-19 are still being produced, there are reasons to believe that the pandemic is likely to increase the risk that women may experience different forms of violence, specifically intimate partner domestic violence: 15 years of survey data show that the great majority of women survivors of violence never report it to the police, helplines or other service providers," the report said.

Educational advancements not reflected in the job market

The failure of progress in women's education to lead to improvements in professional and financial well-being was a particular source of disappointment.

The report explained that despite equal numbers of girls and boys going to elementary and high school, and more young women attending university than men, as a global average, fewer than half of the world's women were employed in the paid labor market in comparison to three-quarters of men.

The gap between men and women in terms of job market participation was the same as in 1995, when the members of the UN pledged to improve women's rights. A similar commitment to achieving gender equality by 2030, agreed in 2015, has also fallen flat.

Job market participation was particularly low in Southern Asia, Northern Africa, and Western Asia, where rates fell below 30%. The share of women in managerial positions was the same as in 1995 while there were only eight more female heads of state compared to 25 years ago.

ab/aw (Reuters, EFE, dpa)

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