The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis of epic proportions – with women and girls getting hard-hit. Beforehand, women already earned and saved less than men, were the majority of single-parent households and held more insecure jobs in the informal economy or service sector, with less access to social protection. The International Labour Organization (ILO) predicts 25 million jobs could be lost as a result of the pandemic, with women particularly susceptible to lay-offs and job cuts.
As part of its response, UN Women has conducted gender rapid assessments in 16 countries with startling economic impacts already coming in from Ukraine. UN Women is training and encouraging girls and young women across Bosnia and Herzegovina to pursue ICT and STEM while pre-pandemic training on digital skills has helped rural women in Turkey to remotely maintain an income amid the COVID-19 lockdown. In Tajikistan, a UN Women-trained business run by women with HIV is supplying key protective gear for the COVID-19 response, while trained farmers in helping neighbours and increasing women workers’ salaries. Meanwhile, Albanian women’s groups are calling for female-targeted COVID-19 support schemes and UN Women partner organizations in Serbia are urging decision-makers to protect devastated women farmers while others deliver food to alleviate the economic impacts that have left many beneficiaries unemployed.