Date: Aug 28, 2021
Gender and Economic Agency: The South Asia Story

Watch the discussion:

A clear victim of the post pandemic world has been 47 million women and girls who would be pushed to extreme poverty by the year 2021 notes the latest report by UN Women, From Insights to Action. The disproportionate impact on women is aggravated as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and developing economies lie at the heart of gender inequalities such as lower wages for women, fewer educational opportunities, limited access to finance, greater reliance on informal employment, and social constraints. Data from the Azim Premji University’s report State of Working India points, that a loss of employment due to the imposition of lockdowns, has had more severe repercussions for the feminised sectors such as the Care Economy and the Gig Economy with only 19% of women remaining employed and a vast 47% facing a permanent job loss than sectors that employ men in a majority.

This discussion will focus on the following.

Women-led MSMEs

While the pandemic has exacerbated challenges, it is also clear that entrepreneurship may be the best alternative for women seeking to gain financial independence and economic agency in COVID hit economies. 

The Gig Economy

Women who are employed in the Gig Economy are confronted with a lot of challenges and various constraints, as gig work is largely regarded as non-traditional work, and falls outside the boundary of conventional, standard forms of employment relations. Security and safety, regular income, upward mobility, lack of effective bargaining power and freedom of association, and the near absence of adequate labour and social protection.

The Care Economy

The demand for care work is set to surge by 2030 due to a number of factors. There is therefore an urgent need to increase investment in these areas and are critical to support women’s re-entry and continued participation in paid employment as economies recover. The scramble for care during the pandemic sends a message that this vital sector needs a respected, well-paid and invested in.