IMF Says Countries Must Do More For Women, Younger Workers Hurt By COVID-19

International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is calling for additional government assistance to women and younger workers affected by COVID-19, based on an analysis of anonymized customer activity during shutdowns provided by mobile carrier Vodafone.

“Using novel anonymized and aggregated mobility indicators provided by Vodafone for some European countries, the analysis shows that lockdowns tend to have a larger effect on women’s mobility than on men’s, especially at the time of school closures,” the IMF’s latest “World Economic Outlook” states. “This suggests that women carry a disproportionate burden in caring for children, which may jeopardize their employment opportunities.”

The report continues: “Vodafone data also show that lockdowns tend to have a stronger impact on the mobility of younger cohorts, who are economically more vulnerable because they generally rely on labor income and have less stable jobs. Thus, targeted policy intervention is needed to protect the employment prospects of women and younger cohorts and prevent a widening of income inequality.”

The warning comes as the IMF’s forecast for global economic growth is taking on a rosier tone than it had previously.

A July United Nations report also found that women were especially vulnerable to COVID-19-related job losses — but that eCommerce offers a path toward improved economic situations for some.

At the corporate level, Facebook announced early in the pandemic that it was making $20 million available to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) owned by women, members of minority groups and veterans.

A footnote to the IMF report states that the data on the activity of Vodafone customers during COVID-19 was produced by the carrier’s Big Data and Artificial Intelligence team and was subjected to numerous privacy controls.