Some 118 million women living in poverty, an unprecedented decline in the employment rate and an increase in sexist violence is the most visible legacy left in Latin America and the Caribbean by the pandemic that broke out in 2020.
After a year of pandemic, "we can verify that the consequences for women have been disproportionately negative," the regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean of UN Women, María-Noel Vaeza, said in an interview with Efe.
"The crisis caused by the pandemic has shown the great challenges we face as societies, making gender inequalities more evident: women are the most affected by the increase in unemployment, poverty and the overload of unpaid care," said the Senior United Nations official.
LESS DECENT WORK AND MORE POVERTY
As a result of the commercial closure and mobility restrictions to stop the advance of the new coronavirus
, the pandemic caused "an economic recession that will reverse the progress in reducing poverty", since at the end of last year some "23 million women joined to poverty, for a total of 118 million ".
The gross domestic product (GDP) of Latin America and the Caribbean contracted by 7.7% in 2020 and the regional unemployment rate reached 10.7% (+ 2.6% compared to 2019), according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
-19 pandemic produced "a 10-year setback in female participation in the labor market," since in 2020 it "fell 6 percentage points" compared to 2019, Vaeza said.
Regarding domestic work, which represents between 10.5% and 14.3% of the jobs of women in the region, "more than 70% were affected by the quarantine measures, their income decreased or disappeared."
As a result of the closure of schools in Latin America, the longest in the world, women assumed "much of the additional unpaid work in the home", and this overload affected "mainly women in the poorest households, (with) up to 39% more of the time. "
But this has not been a new situation: before the pandemic, women in the region dedicated more than three times as much time to unpaid work than men, recalled the director of UN Women.
GENDER VIOLENCE, THE PANDEMIC IN THE SHADOW
"It has also increased the levels of gender violence against girls and adolescents, the shadow pandemic as we have called it," said Vaeza, who explained that "it is estimated that for every 3 months of confinement there will be 15 million additional cases of violence. of genre".
The representative of UN Women affirmed that there is still no "data systematized at the regional level", but the "emerging figures show an increase in reports to telephone lines and in the search for support" due to violence against women.
In Argentina, "during the first weeks of the pandemic, the number of daily calls to the 144 Help Line for Gender Violence increased by 39%," and in Mexico something similar happened, with a 53% rise in calls. 911 calls for help "for incidents of violence against women."
Although "it is not possible to draw conclusions about the data in the midst of the crisis, it is urgent to take measures because, even before the covid
, violence against women in Latin America had pandemic dimensions and the indications indicate that it is increasing," he warned Vaeza.
THE FEMINIST STRUGGLE: CONQUEST OF RIGHTS AND SETTLEMENTS DUE TO COVID
Although in recent years the feminist struggle in the region made progress, "the health crisis caused great setbacks," said the senior UN official.
For example, there are now "18 countries in the region with laws that classify femicide / feminicide with more severe penalties than homicide" in Latin America and the Caribbean, which "is the region that has experienced the greatest increase in recent years. in the labor participation of women between 25 and 54 years of age. In the last two decades it went from 57% to 67%".
Furthermore, according to the latest data compiled by the International Labor Organization (ILO), "the wage gap fell by around 5 percentage points in the last 10 years, but it continues to be 15% on average in the region."
Progress in recovering the ground lost due to the pandemic "requires reflecting gender dynamics" and "putting women at the center of recovery."
To do this, it is necessary to ensure the availability of data disaggregated by sex and gender analysis, and to involve women in all phases of the response and in national and local decision-making, "Vaeza said.