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Women Need to Play a Key Role in COVID’S Economic Recovery

The COVID-19 crisis is having a disproportionate economic impact on women.   A recent report launched by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) outlines the direct and immediate economic impacts of the pandemic on women in Ontario with, women’s labour participation rate falling to its lowest in 30 years. Since the outset of the pandemic, temporary business shutdowns and layoffs most severely affected occupations and sectors that predominantly employ women. These sectors are those in which women entrepreneurs are more likely to operate, and their businesses tend to be newer, smaller, and less well-financed than those owned by men. Additionally, restrictions on schools and paid childcare facilities have shifted additional hours of unpaid family care onto parents, and this work has largely been taken up by mothers. Finally, while women are dominating the frontline responses to the COVID pandemic, they have not been included in the planning for recovery. The long-term impacts of COVID-19 on women in the workforce remains unknown. However, with women’s labour force participation at a record low, decades of progress towards gender equality are at stake. The report titled “She-Covery” reveals that this is not only a watershed moment for women, but for Ontario’s economy and society more broadly, as women’s participation in the labour market is a precondition to its fulsome economic recovery and prosperity. The OCC’s brief lays out a path to Ontario’s “She-Covery” by examining data on the gendered labour market impacts of the pandemic and offers policy solutions to confront both immediate and longer-term challenges. As we look at the path to economic recovery, we must continue to improve the alignment between public policy and economic outcomes. Breaking down barriers women face during the pandemic will lead to new economic activity and growth: more women entrepreneurs mean more wealth generation, more women in the skilled trades mean more opportunities to build, and more women in decision-making roles mean more inclusive outcomes. To that end, the Oakville Chamber has invited a group of women entrepreneurs to discuss the report and how the Chamber can best advocate on their behalf.   – Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy   Read the She-Covery Project: Confronting the Gendered Economic Impacts of COVID-19 in Ontario