Why women have borne the brunt of Covid-19 job losses
A new household survey has revealed the extent of unemployment and hunger in South Africa as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (CRAM) was compiled by 30 social science researchers and published on Wednesday.
The data was collected between 7 May and 27 June and included a sample of about 7,000 respondents.
The survey found that least 3 million South Africans lost their jobs during lockdown between February and April, two million of which disadvantaged black women.
An additional 1.5 million reported having jobs, but zero pay, says researcher Dr. Nic Spaull.
Almost half of the households surveyed (47%) reported that they ran out of money to buy food in April.
One in five respondents (22%) said that someone in the household went hungry in the last week and one in seven respondents said that a child went hungry in the last week.
Dr Spaull says women have borne the brunt of Covid-19 job losses due to a range of factors.
Those who were already disadvantaged in the labour market experienced the biggest losses... Women have really borne the brunt of this job loss crisis.Dr Nic Spaull, Senior researcher - Research on Socio-Economic Policy Unit at Stellenbosch University
These losses of income and losses of jobs are really having a knock-on effect on serious things like hunger.Dr Nic Spaull, Senior researcher - Research on Socio-Economic Policy Unit at Stellenbosch University
Fellow researcher, Professor Daniela Casale explains that women lost their jobs because various industries predominantly employing them were closed.
These industries include personal care services, hospitality, tourism, and domestic work, the professor says.
In addition, many women were unable to seek employment due to the burden of caring for children with schools and childcare facilities closed.
You can't reopen the economy while schools are still closed. What is supposed to happen to when their caregivers have to go back to work - the ones that haven't lost their jobs.Dr Nic Spaull, Senior researcher - Research on Socio-Economic Policy Unit at Stellenbosch University
Kids were home from school or childcare facilities. And there was this added costs of in the home of looking after children, which would have prevented some women from working.Prof Daniela Casale, Associate Professor - School of Economics and Finance at Wits University
Many of the sectors that women were typically employed in were really hit hard by Covid-19 and the lockdown. Think personal care, hospitality, tourism, or domestic work.Prof Daniela Casale, Associate Professor - School of Economics and Finance at Wits University
At the lower end of the earnings distribution where lots of women are concentrated, many of them are self-employed or in the informal sector and would have been locked out of their jobs.Prof Daniela Casale, Associate Professor - School of Economics and Finance at Wits University
Despite the disproportionate impact on women, Prof Casale says only 35% women are receiving the Covid-19 stress relief grant.
Many women are excluded from receiving the Covid-19 relief grant because they earn a child support grant.
The researchers have called on government to intensify its social grant response in order to mitigate the devastation of the pandemic.
Prof Casale says the state should rethink the criteria, value, and duration of the Covid-19 grant in order to support more vulnerable households.
Listen to the in-depth discussion on Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto:
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