The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable effect on a large amount of the world’s population. Death, job losses and possibilities of recessions have caused many of us to grow fearful for our futures. In particular, the current crisis has disproportionately affected women and minority groups.
According to research conducted by IBEC, Ireland’s largest lobby & business representative group, the past 2 years have worsened gender imbalances. Conversations around eldercare difficulties are had with less than 1% of male employees, compared to 29% female employees. Similarly, childcare difficulties are only discussed by 4% of men in the workplace, in comparison to 48% of women. Whilst this data is not wide enough to show further disparities experienced by racial or gender minorities, it clearly shows the bias in these conversations; those who have more challenges facing them are more able to talk about them. However, having conversations around what challenges different groups face is imperative to creating social change. Men need to be having these conversations too, especially in the workplace where they tend to face fewer challenges. This is necessary if we want to make progress faster and easier, without losing any of the hard-won advances in gender equality.
In comparison to 2019, the women’s labour force participation rate across Latin America has fallen to 46% in 2020, from 52% previously. With burdens of childcare and familial care falling more on women, this can often cause even more difficulties not only when getting jobs, but also when attempting to move higher up in the career ladder. Estimates from those at The World Economic Forum have shown that the pandemic has added around 36 years to the estimated time it could take to end the global gender pay gap. This now takes the estimate to a grand total of 135.6 years for women and men to reach parity, given a range of factors worldwide. Additions to the time lag include complexities: the educational attainment gender gap is 95% closed globally; however, the gender gap in political empowerment is only 22% closed and therefore offsets progress made elsewhere.
Higher economic hurdles and workplace challenges are stated as being exacerbated by COVID-19, and the economic gender gap is not expected to close until at least 2288. The stats are sobering to say the least. If globally we are able to move more women up the workplace ladder, through mentorship, more people can obtain a multitude of jobs that are slightly lower-skilled.
While mentorship is not the entire answer to solving the burdens caused by the pandemic, it can be a key tool used to help build the confidence of women across a range of skill levels. More crucially, with women often having to balance their careers and other responsibilities, learning how to sell products to a global market, CV help, or even interview preparations can all be lifesaving. Through LevelUp, mentors can help women to find short-term and long-term solutions to issues stemming from the global pandemic.