Approximately five months into the global COVID-19 crisis, the short- and long-term damage to national economies—especially in the developing world—continues to be felt disproportionately by poor women. Initial analysis of data from countries including Brazil, India, Russia, and Kenya suggests women workers are particularly vulnerable to the current economic crisis because national lockdowns have brought the informal sector to a halt. Informal sector workers are those with no written contracts, paid leave, health benefits, or social security. Women outnumber men in the informal sector in a majority of least developed economies, and as a result, more women have found themselves out of work during the pandemic.
This policy brief explores common problems facing informal women workers such as seasonal farm laborers and street vendors due to COVID-19. It also suggests policies for mitigating the economic damage to their livelihoods, including cash transfers, suspension of debts, and protections from eviction.