News & Events

The Female Recession: COVID-19’s Impact on Women in the Workforce


Employment & Learning

By Haley Ramphal.

The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the most impactful events in modern history. With the rising numbers of cases, deaths, and the panic of medical supplies and equipment running low, it is safe to say 2020 will be a year that is always remembered. To make matters worse, this virus has forced society to implement strict safety measures and precautions, which have negatively impacted many people’s livelihoods. What began as temporary closures of stores, restaurants, and other businesses, have resulted in many of these establishments closing permanently. This has resulted in devastating unemployment rates across the globe, with a large portion of society turning to employment insurance and others forms of subsidy from the government.

However, unlike previous recessions, Covid-19 has inadvertently caused the most harm to women’s employment. The reasons for this? There are two significant factors explaining the disproportionate number of women facing unemployment during this pandemic. The first is gender difference in terms of the type of employment that is typically female-dominated. According to Econofact, many women work in sectors such as restaurants and tourism, which were severely affected by the crisis. As well, they note that occupations requiring personal contact, including retail and personal services, accounted for the largest employment losses. The second factor is childcare. Econofact explains how working mothers were already shouldering the majority of family caregiving responsibilities…but the empirical evidence since the Covid-19 crisis started shows that working mothers are more frequently reducing their hours or leaving their jobs entirely in response.

The YWCA Employment and Learning Centre offers a Resume Development Workshop through the Job Search Program for individuals seeking employment. While delivering this workshop over the last few months, the majority of participants registered are women. Many of them have been laid off due to Covid-19, with their workplaces reducing the number of staff or closing permanently. Upon learning more about their work history, many of these women had taken time off at some point in their careers, whether it was maternity leave, raising their children, or caring for a family member.

The Job Search Program, specifically the Resume Development Workshop, helps individuals facing unemployment, to regain confidence in themselves, their skillsets, and the process of job searching. Programs like this are critical, now more than ever. Job searching is stressful and often times discouraging, especially with the current circumstances of a global pandemic. Offering these services allows individuals accessing these programs and services to feel supported during these uncertain times.

Women’s work within the household, (i.e., domestic roles), has almost always been overlooked and underappreciated by society. Effects of Covid-19 on single-mothers who have to juggle childcare and now unemployment prove that this gender gap in employment is still present, forcing women to have to choose between taking care of their children or keeping their job. Once the pandemic restrictions are eventually lifted, it’s vital that the rules and regulations negatively affecting women in the workplace are revisited and redeveloped.

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