International Women’s Day 2021
Panel discussion on countering the regressive impact of COVID-19 on gender equality
On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day, the ILO pays tribute to the tremendous efforts made by women in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the occasion International Women Day 2021, the ILO proposes a high-level collective reflection on the challenges and opportunities in building a transformative agenda for gender equality as called for by the ILO Centenary Declaration. The conversation will emphasize actions needed to support the role of women as agents of change towards a human-centred path to a more equal world of work in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
- Mr. Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General
- H.E. Ms. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister of Namibia
- H.E. Ms. Yolanda Díaz Pérez, Minister of Labour and Social Economy of Spain
- H.E. Ms. Cécilia Merchán, State Secretary of Equality and Diversity Policies, Ministry of Women, Genders and Diversity of Argentina
- Ms. Rubana Huq, President of Bangladesh Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and Managing Director of Mohammadi Group
- Ms. Aya Mezrigui, intensive care nurse and union representative, UGTT Tunisia
- Ms. Nozipho Tshabalala, moderator
BackgroundOn the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day, the ILO pays tribute to the tremendous efforts made by women in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women have been at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as essential workers, researchers, innovators, media professionals, workers’ and employers’ representatives and political leaders. Yet, globally and across all regions and country income groups, women have been affected by employment loss to a greater extent than men. At the global level, the employment loss for women stands at 5.0 per cent in 2020, versus 3.9 per cent for men.
Across all regions, women have been more likely than men to drop out of the labour force and become inactive, during this crisis. Lower-paid workers, many of whom are women, have been severely affected.
Those in lower-skilled occupations lost more working hours than higher-paying managerial and professional jobs. Estimates based on a sample of 28 European countries found that, without wage subsidies, women would have lost 8.1 per cent of their wages in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 5.4 per cent for men.
Stubborn discrimination, heavy burden of unpaid care work that remains unequally distributed and a glass ceiling showing high resistance are prolonging gender gaps in employment, as is violence and harassment in the world of work. The Pandemic’s impacts risk reversing progress made and further entrenching these gaps, particularly for women facing disadvantage and discrimination based on multiple grounds such gender, ethnicity, disability and others.
Given regressive gender trends observed over the course of the COVID-19 crisis and uneven progress towards gender equality even before the pandemic, ILO tripartite constituents can make a vital contribution to promote gender equality through inclusive policy-making as well as gender-inclusive representation in policy-making. Tripartite constituents need to see a greater role for stronger universal and sustainable social protection policies, investment in supporting families with care work, advocating women as leaders, and ensuring the dignity and safety of women and men in the labour market for better present and future times.