Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic challenges, women are disproportionately fighting unemployment and struggling to survive, as they remain pillars of the family and a foundation of society. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 270,000 women left the workforce last month. During the month of December, the economy saw a decrease of 227,000 jobs in the US, with women accounting for 196,000 job losses. Some economists have characterized this as a “she-cession.” The pandemic has also forced many women to choose between caring for their children at home, as schools closed, and working. The gender equality remains a concept in the US and elsewhere.

The challenges are even greater for women in Latin America, where poverty, inequality and unemployment advanced at an unprecedented rate since the economy contracted 7.7% and nearly three million companies closed during 2020 due to the pandemic. This economic and social stress has also exacerbated violence against women. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean highlighted that the level of paid employment of women fell as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, reaching 12% unemployment in 2020. Female unemployment could potentially result in some 118 million of women living in extreme poverty.

Considering that women represent 51% of the world’s population, it is important to strengthen a synergy between international policies, training and employment opportunities. Women have proven to be the foundation of families, the pillar of society and the engine of the global economy. Work emancipates and transforms. Latin America needs laws that protect and empower women. This could, in turn, be a virtuous circle between empowerment, development, investment and prosperity for the Western Hemisphere.