There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused economic problems— small businesses are closing, close to 18 million Americans are unemployed according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and stock prices are falling at enormous rates. The question on most people’s minds is: how will we recover from such a big loss in our economy? The answer is that the economic outlook is already getting better, but it can improve at a much faster rate if women are better integrated into the workforce. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the economy is expected to shrink by only 4.5%, rather than the forecasted 6% (assuming countries can keep their relief programs in place).
However, even with the relief programs, this economic downfall will need to be fixed over time and well-beyond the pandemics culmination. An avenue that can immensely help in economic recovery is hiring women in the workplace. For example, 41% of women worked in the most “difficult to work” remote workforce sectors. According to UN Women, those sectors include accommodation and food services, business administration, real estate, and manufacturing. The need for sustainable employment and a larger focus on gender-responsive budgeting is growing immensely due to this pandemic. Hawaii has considered the fact that women have been disproportionately hurt by this pandemic and, as a result, implemented plans to bolster education, childcare, and healthcare programs. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation, this, in turn, “boosts employment, earnings, economic growth, and fosters gender equality.” This is the first of this kind of program in the nation, and it is what the economy needs right now to enhance recovery.
Further, many women are bearing the large burden of childcare due to childcare businesses not being opened during the pandemic. That is causing women who were let go due to the pandemic to have even more difficulties finding work that is not remote. Opportunities for remote working need to be increased for women because many of them have to assist their children with remote work or watch them. One company, Mother Coders, is a non-profit organization striving to teach women career preparation and allows women to go into a STEM field. These online resources are needed for women and will help the economy because women comprise 85 percent of business and consumer purchasing and put an average of 90 percent of their income back into the economy. The success of Mother Coders is apparent in that the number of jobs the women who have gone through the program were able to attain is quite high.
It is clear that putting women into the workforce is needed for economic recovery. Still, without expanding social assistance programs and investment in gender-responsive social infrastructure, the nation will see a long recovery (much like the recovery after the 2008 economic recession). Giving women the resources to diversify their income and their skill set will be vital in helping the millions of women who lost their jobs due to the pandemic reenter the workforce. Especially now, hiring women is vital in recovering the economy since female-dominated professions have been hurt the most due to the pandemic.
Putting women in charge of their income and providing jobs to women is something to strive for, but, now more than ever, women are being needed in the economy. More time needs to be put into educating women across the country, especially those that are jobless as a result of the pandemic, and policies need to be implemented that are aimed at women and women-owned businesses. It is a challenging goal amidst the coronavirus pandemic, but hiring women can help get the United States on the road to economic recovery. Policies that give women the chance to create their own income and enhance their income in an economic recession are just the change that the country needs to see to ensure economic prosperity for all.
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