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ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) forecasts that 231 million people will slide into poverty in 2020 in Latin America, of whom 118 million will be women.

In addition, 21 million women will be unemployed, and one out of every two will work in the informal sector, without social protection, it added.

In a statement ECLAC noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean, women have more years of schooling than men, on average (10.3 versus 9.8 in the population between 18 and 24 years of age); however, their labour participation rate is just 51.3 per cent versus 74 per cent of men.

Alicia Bárcena, executive secretary of ECLAC said there needs to be an urgency of implementing active fiscal policies with a gender approach in the short term to mitigate the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women.

Concrete budgetary allotments are needed to protect women’s employment, both in the formal and informal sectors; to promote their full participation in production and in the benefits of the digital revolution and to close the gap in access to financing by providing credits and insurance, Bárcena said.

“Investing in the care economy – work that must be seen as a public good – is key to achieving a sustainable recovery in the medium and long term,” she added.

Bárcena added gender inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean has been exacerbated by the pandemic, since women in the region have been more affected by the increase in unemployment and poverty and by the greater burden of unpaid domestic and care work.

“A recovery and economic transformation with gender equality at the centre must acknowledge and redistribute power, time, work and resources. We need to break the statistical silence and empower women along the three dimensions of their autonomy (economic, physical and political) through a political compact at a national and regional level,”Bárcena added.