‘One-third of female youths lost jobs during corona’

Special Correspondent

12 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

More women lost jobs, had a harder time finding another job, and had a much slower income recovery amid Covid-19 in Bangladesh, according to a survey conducted by BRAC.

A third of the young women employed before the pandemic in the country were out of jobs in January 2021. The rate is three times higher in women (29 per cent) than that of young men (11 per cent).

The female youths who again found a job later, income recovery has dropped only 10 per cent for male youths while it is 21 per cent for female youths in January 2021, according to the findings of the study.

The findings were shared by Dr Imran Matin, executive director of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), in a webinar on Sunday, said a press release.

Respondents in the study pointed out that private tutoring, handicrafts, factory jobs, tailoring and light engineering are among the areas in which more young women used to find employment conventionally, but again these are among the hardest-hit areas during the pandemic.

The respondents also think that recovery of these particular areas will be tough and take time even when the pandemic is over, making it difficult for female youths to come back to paid employment.

The BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) and BRAC’s skills development programme (SDP) hosted the webinar titled ‘Building a resilient ecosystem for women in the skills sector: challenges and prospects’ to celebrate World Youth Skills Day (July 15).

Highlighting the survey findings, Dr Matin said so many working women remaining out of paid work for such a long period may cause many to permanently leave the job market, which may further reduce the already low rate of women’s labour market participation.

Covid-19 shock may threaten to undo much of the progress made around women’s empowerment unless corrective measures are taken, he said.

Speaking at the webinar emphasized greater awareness of the importance of technical and vocational education and training and development of other skills relevant to both local and global economies. BIGD in collaboration with SDP has conducted a number of studies identifying the sustained beneficial impact of skills training on women’s economic independence.

Speaking on the possible interventions, a panel of development professionals shared their insights, highlighted the importance of adopting proper implementation strategies, and stressed that the evidence-based findings from different relevant studies need to be taken into view in building a resilient ecosystem for women in the area of skills development.

Joydeep Sinha Roy, head of operations of BRAC SDP, presented findings from SDP’s implementation experiences over the years at the event.

The presentation pointed out that culture and traditional gender roles, gender stereotyping, lack of career guidance, safety concerns particularly fear of gender-based violence and sexual harassment, family responsibilities, and availability of quality apprenticeship occupations are the major barriers for adolescent girls and young women’s access to skills learning.

The presentation recommended more awareness about skills training both at the individual and household level, access to the labour market through skills training, raising awareness to change the perception towards women, enabling a women-friendly environment in the labour market, and access to jobs and retention to improve the scenario.