When challenges posed by COVID-19 can provide new opportunities for working women

10 May 2020

With the onset of COVID-19, both the challenges women face in the workplace, as well as the significant role they play at home, has been realized now more than ever. As such, this period in time has become a turning point for generations to come.

Added Responsibilities for Women During a Global Pandemic

With schools and businesses closing, families now need to balance work, online education and entertaining children at home. A recent Morning Consult survey found 70% of women say they’re fully or mostly responsible for homeworking

during lockdown and 66% say so for child care. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the average day of a working mother who is often balancing a career while undertaking unpaid family work – parenting, educating, caring for elderly family, and more. Not to mention the women and mothers working in the frontlines of the crisis – in fact, women form 70% of workers in the health and social sector, according to the World Health Organization.

Embracing Flexibility Amidst a New Digital Workforce

Forced acceleration of digitalization in the workforce has granted many working mothers the flexibility they have longed for. Its continuation post-pandemic has the potential to lead to new and stronger opportunities for women in the future. The B20 Saudi Arabia has been working diligently on recommendations to help facilitate new ways of flexible working as the role of technology continues to evolve.

Recently, the B20 Saudi Arabia called upon the G20 to consider policies that will positively impact the future of work for women. From strengthening global digital infrastructure and improving cyber-security to upskilling an increasingly digital workforce, such efforts can unlock the advancement and full leadership potential of women by fostering an inclusive environment.

Promoting Women Entrepreneurs

Further, the B20 Saudi Arabia is working on policy recommendations to promote female business ownership and create an enabling environment for female-owned startups and businesses. Such businesses will not only contribute to the economic recovery from COVID-19 but will form the backbone of our communities for years to come. Many of these include micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the largest employers and job creators, which are the most susceptible to economic shocks such as the one caused by COVID-19. As such, the B20 Saudi Arabia has called on the G20 to commit to provide additional support to MSMEs which will provide more certainty for the working moms who own or depend on them.

The economic empowerment of women should be every business’s priority. Significant research substantiates that gender diversity has a positive impact on productivity and profitability and accordingly is beneficial for a company’s performance. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), if female participation in the workforce was increased to a level equal to men, the global GDP would ultimately rise by approximately three to six percent, increasing the global economy by US$2.5-5 trillion dollars – the equivalent of adding an economy the size of Germany to global output.

It will take a collaborative approach to build a clear and achievable roadmap that leads us to unlock the advancement and full leadership potential of women. Together, governments and the global business community must create an inclusive environment for women in the workplace and foster entrepreneurship so they can thrive.

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