Coronavirus fallout worse for women than men

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MAHNOOR ANSAR

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Sunday said coronavirus fallout is worse for women than men, therefore the vulnerable women should get special attention of the government.

Women comprise the majority of health workers who are on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic who deserve a salary raise while school closures have particularly affected them as they bear the whole responsibility for childcare, said Samina Fazil, founder President IWCCI.

In a statement issued here today, she said that women are facing income loss, beauty parlours and boutiques have been closed, millions of maids have been laid off, and hundreds of thousands of teachers etc. have been sent on forced leaves.

She said that many women are low-wage and part-time workers facing gender pay gap while those who are running their businesses depend on exhibitions and middlemen as the majority cannot afford to have a shop.

Housewives are facing household budget cuts and increased domestic violence due to problems linked to the lockdown, she added.

She said that most of the items women sell in the market is not seen as a necessity, but more of luxury amid an economic slowdown which has resulted in financial constraints for the businesswomen.

Samina Fazil noted that the economy needs women, and women need equity and protection, therefore the State Bank of Pakistan should reschedule loan repayments, announce interest-free loans for women entrepreneurs and take all other steps needed to empower them amid the crisis to help them remain afloat.

She said that financial security space is shrinking for the businesswomen, therefore the government should announce a bailout package for them without further delay.

The country needs a robust social protection system in place to save the poor during emergencies as women and children are always worst hit in such situations, she demanded.