The Future of Work is Sexist: COVID-19’s impact on the lives of women and girls has rolled back progress on gender equality by a generation

CARE International UK

08 June 2022


The current modernisation and future of the workforce, accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving women behind according to a new report released today (Wednesday).

Women were 1.8 times more likely to be driven out of the workforce during the pandemic. CARE International’s report titled The Future of Work is Sexist, has identified key areas impacted by the pandemic that are rolling back progress on gender equality in the workplace:

Unpaid care work is skyrocketing. With lockdowns, schools closing, and higher levels of family illnesses, women in low and middle-income countries took on 270 additional hours of unpaid care in 2020, compared to only 70 hours for men. That not only burdened women, it also took them out of the workforce.
Gender-Based Violence rose during the pandemic. 243 million women experienced violence in 2020, with some countries seeing a 5-fold increase. Lockdowns and increased pressure increased violence at home and at work. CARE’s research showed that violence against women garment workers has doubled since the onset of COVID-19 - up to 53%.
Women’s jobs were hit hardest, recovered least. Women were 1.8 times more likely to be driven out of the workforce. Of women who lost jobs in 2020, 90% of them have left the workforce permanently. While men’s employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, at least 13 million fewer women have formal jobs than did in February 2020.
Women entrepreneurs were further marginalised. Women-led businesses were more likely to close during the pandemic than male-led businesses, and women’s businesses lost more income than male-run businesses and received fewer loans to help them recover.
The digital divide makes it worse. COVID-19 accelerated the digital future of work. 243 million fewer women than men are accessing mobile internet across low- and middle-income countries. In total, nearly a billion women cannot access mobile internet.
Leaders in the workplace are still usually men. Women hold only 27% of managerial positions at work, and that trend worsened during the pandemic. In health care—one job category that should be growing in the pandemic—70% of workers are women, but 75% of leaders are men. Women’s political leadership has a 78% disparity between men and women.

Emily Janoch, CARE Senior Director of Thought Leadership, commenting on the report, said:

“We are headed down a path that will set women back for a generation. But there is time to reverse course. 

“It means ensuring equal pay, reducing unpaid care burdens that disproportionately fall on women and ensuring there are more women in leadership roles. These are all achievable goals if prioritised.”

For media queries and requests for spokespeople please contact David Moore, Press Officer, CARE International UK,