The XX Factor – Corona’s Collateral Casualties

Author: Lisa Douglas-Paul

In war, there are always casualties. The fight against the Coronavirus pandemic was no different.  But amidst the haze of staggering infection rates and the race to develop effective vaccines 💉 there was one bit of collateral damage that was almost too easy to miss…

Working Parents were leaving the workforce. Some by force and then some by choice.

This type of mass hemorrhaging couldn’t be patched up with broken promises of flexible work from home arrangements. As the demands at home and at work converged, it created a new reality for the working parent. And that reality has been significantly harsher for those of us with XX Chromosomes when compared with our XY counterparts. Yup! Working mothers had a pretty tough time and we got the stats to prove it.

Without a Care
It’s no secret that unpaid care work has disproportionally affected women. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) stats showed that even before the current health crisis, women spent between 22 and 42 hours a week on domestic work and care activities. That’s almost an additional work week on top of their paid jobs! However the increased demands brought on the closure of schools and daycares proved to be water more than flour for most working women living with school-age children.

Numbers Don’t Lie
According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the labour participation rate of women in 2020 experienced a historical decline of 10.3 per cent. The IDB has chalked up to two factors. Firstly, women are overrepresented in service sectors such as hospitality and tourism which require a relatively high level of physical contact. Secondly, Caribbean women generally dedicate three times the time that men dedicate daily to unpaid care and domestic work (their words, not mine. Sorry fellas 😕

Respect Our Queens
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) hails women as critical in the global fight towards economic recovery. This means we have to reactivate and reconfigure existing models of female employment.  But before we do that, we have to ask ourselves the age old question that has plagued men for centuries – What do women want? Stay tuned next week for Part 2 as we help you piece together the answer.  

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