4 million women caregivers joined extreme poverty in the pandemic

The covid-19 pandemic, a crisis that intensified household and care work also increased the number of caregivers who suffers from poverty or extreme poverty due to income. According to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Policy (Coneval), this population went from more than 28.1 to 32.6 million in the midst of the pandemic.

That is, to 4.4 million women who take care of housework, take care of girls, boys, adolescents, people with disabilities or older adults, they no longer had enough to buy a basic food basket. They also didn’t have enough to pay for health, clothing, housing, transportation, or education.

According to the agency, in 2018 56% of the female population that performed more than four hours of care work a day was in income poverty; by 2020 this proportion was already 60 percent. There was also an increase in the population living in extreme poverty, from almost 15 to 19.3% in the same period.

In nominal terms, the number of women caregivers in poverty it decreased between 2018 and 2020, going from 3.9 to 3.7 million. However, this reduction of almost 200,000 people is due to the fact that they moved into extreme poverty due to income. The information available in the 2018-2020 Statistical Annex indicates that this population rose from 1 million to 1.2 million in that period.

Before the pandemic, of the total jobs worldwide, women held 39% and men 61%, according to the study Care work in Mexico in the context of the covid-19 pandemic, prepared by Senate specialists. But the workers represented the 54% of the total loss of seats in May 2020 within the framework of the suspension of non-essential economic activities due to the health emergency caused by covid-19.

“At the same time, the burden of unpaid care, which has increased during the pandemic, falls disproportionately on women,” the document notes. If no action is taken to curb female unemployment, “the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be $ 1 trillion lower by 2030.”

The burden of care work is poverty

According to Coneval, the number of women in poverty who dedicate at least four hours a day to household chores rose from 9.9 to 10.9 million between 2018 and 2020. The increase in extreme poverty due to income was from 2.3 to 2.7 million and from moderate poverty from 7.6 to 8.2 million.

The employment for women in Mexico “it was reduced by 7% in comparison” in 2020, according to the United Nations (UN). Still in the first quarter of this year, 70% of the people who were still out of work were women, according to the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE).

This Monday the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) presented the results of the last ENOE, where it indicates that last September the 43.2% of women I had a job or was able to find one. While 75.2% of men were in that situation.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), among other international and national organizations, has highlighted that women were one of the first populations to be unemployed as soon as COVID-19 arrived. And at this point, his return to work is still slow. That deprives them of an income.

The report Effects of the pandemic on teleworking circumstances in Mexico, from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), indicates that “in many work spaces it was not taken into account that families were in a critical situation in the face of the closure of schools and care services, and it was expected, through clear statements or tacitly, that people would meet the goals and performance ”agreed before the crisis.

Many women “faced the difficult decision to fall short of their goals,” which meant getting lower income. “Or force themselves to maintain an unsustainable pace.”

In 2018, 46% of women who spent less than four hours received an income below the poverty line. That is, more than 14.6 million. Two years later, and a pandemic in between, it was almost 50% of that population that did not have enough income to buy a basic food basket, representing more than 16.5 million.

And women in extreme poverty due to income who perform less than four hours a day cleaning the home, rose from 11.7 to 15.5 percent, that is, from 3.7 to 5.2 million. In the case of the caregivers who dedicate less than four hours a day to caring for other people, the increase in extreme poverty by income was from 5 to 6.7 million in the period analyzed.

A ruling is pending in the Senate of the Republic that, if approved, would initiate the national care system, a public policy that could balance the time and work that people dedicate to these tasks. At this time, women take care of 75% of them, according to Inegi.


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