Evidence Review of Covid-19 and Women’s Informal Employment: A Call to Support the Most Vulnerable First in the Economic Recovery
Lakshmi Ratan, Aishwarya
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More than a year has elapsed since COVID-19 plunged the world into uncertainty. Month after month, cascades of reports continue to expose the pandemic’s devastating and widespread impact on women’s livelihoods. Women the world over have been impacted, yet women in informal employment, with little to no social and labour protections, have been disproportionately ravaged. In low- and lower-middle income countries, informal employment is the norm for women. In Africa and India, roughly 90 percent of employed women are informal workers. According to one India study, in the wake of COVID-19, 83 percent of women informal workers faced a severe income drop, with half relying on grants for food security. Similarly, an April 2020 survey covering 12 cities around the world conducted by Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), a global network focused on women in informal employment, found that during the peak COVID-19 lockdown period in each city, women informal workers’ earnings, on average, were only about 20 percent of their pre-COVID-19 levels (compared with men who were earning about 25 percent of their prepandemic earnings).