ILO urges governments to make women empowerment top priority in post-pandemic recovery

By Diya Nayak

29th August, 2020

The Women at work initiative logo of the ILO. (Source:

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency which promotes economic and social justice, directed governments to give particular emphasis to implementing policies that uplift and protect the women’s workforce from the economic effects of the CoronaVirus Pandemic, as it had affected them disproportionately.

The ILO suggested that the governments adopt policy changes that offset the chances of women losing their jobs by introducing schemes that help compensate for the loss of pay with a reduced number of working hours.

The organisation also suggested that governments should introduce public platforms such as Public Employment Services that help job applicants connect with employers to accelerate employment in sectors that require it.

According to Officials in the Organisation, their data claims that more women were dismissed from their jobs in comparison to men during the pandemic, especially in hard-hit sectors like hospitality, and tourism. This only widened the economic gap between the two genders.

The agency also asked governments to avoid withdrawing education and health care services and cutting down on budgets and wages in these sectors, as it might disrupt the lives of many financially disadvantaged women and children. As an extension to this suggestion, they also recommended additional government investment in these sectors through stimulus packages to create jobs, provide security to underprivileged groups that are at risk of unemployment, and improve the working conditions of essential workers.

Valeria Esquivel, ILO senior employment policies and gender officer, explained that more women were involved in industries that were required to be on the frontlines during the pandemic, which endangered their health and hence their job security. She added that even workers in the unorganised sector like domestic workers were under the risk of unemployment due to budget cuts in families. She stated that these developments were needed to empower women as they find it harder to get back into the work field than men.

In addition to this, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres indicated that the pandemic had reversed years of progress on gender equality and deepened the gap between men and women. He said that this socio-economic difference during the pandemic had led to extreme situations like increased cases of violence against women and teen pregnancy.

ILO argued that even before the onset of the pandemic, many women in developing countries were excluded from the workforce which only worsened the situation in our current circumstances. ILO also requested governments to conduct camps and workshops to educate women and narrow the skill gap between the two genders, and remove entry-level barriers.

They added that the only way to completely resurrect economies after the pandemic was to make changes to improve gender equality in the labour force.

Sources: Times Of India, Business Today, ILO Policy Brief, May 2020

Edited by Hrishit Roy.

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