6 Mar 2009

Global crisis could see 22m women unemployed - ILO

9:33 pm on 6 March 2009

The economic crisis could increase the number of unemployed women by up to 22 million this year, according to the International Labour Organisation.

In a report assessing employment trends for women, the ILO warns that they will not escape the downturn.

The global crisis began in the financial sectors of the world's richest countries, in jobs traditionally dominated by men.

But unemployment is now spreading well beyond these sectors, the ILO says.

The report's author, Jeff Johnson, says: "The sectors that were initially impacted the hardest, which were finance, insurance and real estate, construction and manufacturing were often dominated by male workers.

"But as this crisis has played out, it's hit other sectors of the economy, service orientated sectors wholesale retail trade which in many industrialised economies are dominated by females."

As consumer confidence wanes, more traditionally female jobs such as waitresses, shop assistants, are all disappearing too.

The ILO is especially worried about women in the developing world, working in agriculture, or as domestic servants, on a piece meal basis.

They have no social protection and are especially vulnerable during an economic downturn.

The ILO is predicting a global rise in unemployment this year of up to 51 million people - 22 million, it believes, will be women.

The organisation is calling on governments to ensure that new jobs created by economic stimulus packages guarantee fair salaries, and social protection measures.