The Covid-19 pandemic's manifold impacts on the livelihood of different segments of the population are becoming more and more evident with the passage of time. What percentage of the young female employees, for example, have lost their jobs due to the pandemic? The findings of a recent study done by a leading non-government organisation (NGO) on the subject are indeed revealing. The study shows that about one-third of the adult female among youths who had jobs before the pandemic could not find reemployment as of January 2021. The study further shows that joblessness among them (29 per cent) is three times that among their male counterparts at 11 per cent.
Clearly, it is an instance of gender bias in the job market, if not outright discrimination. Here the question may arise as to why all the women who lost jobs during the first phase of the pandemic shock did not try to get back their old jobs or find new ones after the situation improved? Whatever the case may be, the irony is those who got back their old jobs or landed new ones had to accept a lower pay than what they got or would get earlier for the same kind of job. And the proportion of income loss involved for those women was 21 per cent. Interestingly, for the male workers who got reemployed, the amount of income loss was only 10 per cent.
How can one possibly explain this yet another case of anomaly unless from the perspective of gender bias? So, this difference in income loss among the male and female youths under the pandemic situation only points to a chronic gender bias prevailing in the job market. So, the female workers now face the double whammy of job loss for the majority and significant income loss for the rest who managed to get back a job. What is further distressing is the fact that the areas where the adult females usually find employment such as private tutoring, handicrafts, factory job, tailoring, light engineering and the like have been hardest hit by the pandemic. As a result, these job sectors will take a longer time than others to recuperate. In that case, the women who were employed in these sectors before the pandemic face the prospect of a longer period of unemployment than others. Under the circumstances, it is feared that many of these female youths thus rendered jobless for such a long period of time may ultimately drop out of the job market. The outlook is undoubtedly depressing for women's welfare in general. Evidently, among the many negative aspects of the pandemic, its unfavourable impact on the young females' employment opportunities is one. This demands especial attention from the government and others concerned.
It is important to note at this point that the existing gender bias in the job market needs to be overcome. As a first step to that end, it would be necessary for the female job-seekers to attain the required competence to compete with their male counterparts. At the same time, it has also to be guaranteed that the job opportunity is maintained at a sustainable level for the competent female candidates. First and foremost, the job market should ensure fair play between the male and female participants. Once this is achieved, it would be just a matter of time before the remaining barriers are overcome.