The coronavirus pandemic could wipe out “the modest progress” made on gender equality at work in recent decades with women globally at greater risk of losing their jobs, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned on Tuesday.

The U.N. agency said the fall in global working hours was “significantly worse than previously estimated” in the first half of the year and that the Americas was the hardest-hit region.

It warned women were disproportionately affected, with almost 510 million women, or 40% of all employed women, working in the industries with most job losses compared to 36.6% of men, which includes food and accommodation, retail and real estate.

The ILO said women were also in greater danger of infection and less likely to have social security coverage, as they make up the vast majority of domestic, health and social care workers globally who could lose jobs due to coronavirus lockdowns.

“This crisis therefore threatens to nullify women’s gains in the labour market along with the positive (although slow) changes in the distribution of unpaid care work”, the ILO said in a report.

“The latest labour force survey data reveal alarming trends that threaten to exacerbate existing disparities and eliminate the modest gains achieved in recent years in terms of gender equality in the labour market,” the report added.


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