Women are likely to be harder hit than men by trade disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the dangers are particularly acute in developing countries, according to a paper by the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO).
It said that women make up a larger share of the workforce in the manufacturing sectors, such as textiles, apparel, footwear and telecommunication products, that have seen the largest falls in export growth during the first months of the pandemic.
In the services sector also, it said, women also outnumber men in industries that have been directly affected by travel restrictions, such as tourism and business travel services.
“Women are at risk of suffering more than men from the trade disruption generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the reasons for this is that a larger share of women works in sectors and types of firms that have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic,” it said.
The paper stated that maintaining open markets during the recovery period is key to building faster and more inclusive growth, the information note states.
It added that this should be complemented by appropriate labour and education policies as well as legal and social reforms to support women workers, consumers and traders.
A large share of firms owned or managed by women are micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and lower levels of financial resources and limited access to public funds are placing the survival of such businesses at greater risk, it said.
“The economic impact of the pandemic is expected to be particularly significant for women in least-developed and developing economies,” it said.
It is because fewer women than men are employed in these economies in occupations that can be undertaken remotely, and a larger share of women is employed in sectors highly exposed to international travel restrictions.
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