Today, 1st of May, the large majority of countries celebrate the International Workers’ Day or May Day. A graphical representation of those, according to Wikipedia, is illustrated in the picture below.
The SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth reflect the origin of today’s celebration, the reduction of the 70+h working weeks to 8h/day in the XIX century. The World has come a long way since those days. More women have been included in the workforce, at all levels. The Women’s Bureau graphical representation below shows a convergence in the US workforce between 1945 and 2015. Although the USA has just elected Kamala Harris as its first female Vice-President and a few years ago, Janet Yellen was the first female leading the FED, there are some counties that have been following the opposite trend in the past 15 years. During so, the world has seen a contraction on female representation in the workforce, stemmed from a significant reduction in the Asian-Pacific countries, as you can observe in the Our World in Data graphic below. Paid maternity leave became a reality and shared parenthood leave is becoming more normal, with Scandinavia leading on this particular progress.
Graphic 1 – USA share of male and female representation in the workforce between 1945 and 2015 Source: Women’s Bureau, US Department of Labor
Graphic 2 – World of female representation in the workforce between 1990 and 2017 Source: Our World in Data
In 2019 female participation has dropped to 47 % from 51% in 1990, which is aligned with overall human being representation in the workforce, as per World Bank’s graphics included below. The economic downturns along with an increase in aging population, the increase in life expectancy (hopefully reaching the 100 years life as the economist and Professor Andrew Scott, advocates) accompanied by the robotics’ usage, which improved significantly our well-being, may be the cause of this continuous drop verified in the past 15 years. The International Labour Organisation estimates that Covid-19 has caused an 8.8% of working hours loss, 400% more than during the 2008 financial crisis. Unfortunately, according to the ILO, job losses during the Pandemic were higher for women and young workers. For 2021, the job loss is expected to further contract by 3%.
Graphic 3 – Female Representation in the Workforce Source: World Bank
Graphic 4 – World’s workforce participation. Source: World Bank
During lockdown violence against women and girls has increased, and sometimes within the same gender, too. The UN estimates that gender domestic violence has increased by 30% during the Pandemic. The mistreatment of women accompanied by the heavier job losses women have faced during the Pandemic, just increase the gender gap. A retrocession that makes achieving SDG5, a bigger challenge than when it was initially set, back in 2015.
That leads us to the SDG 8, which aims at promoting “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. The Pandemic has shown lack of sustainable leadership, with several biases reflected in the unequal job losses and the PPE usage by mediatic leaders, who in their TV appearances and meetings at the crisis surge were not wearing a face-covering mask, yet demanding the population to do so.
2020 was an unprecedented year in many matters, including economic and health. Global GDP per capita is expected to drop by 4.2%, governments are spending unprecedentedly to cushion the economic downturn as much as their financial creativity allows them.
2021, offers an opportunity to rethink our lifestyles, our values and our traditional economic model. It’s time to recognise that men and women can contribute equally in the workplace and transit to the circular economy, which allows a sustainable growth for the People and the Planet.
Happy International Workers’ Day!