Reuters top ten news stories delivered to your inbox each day.
You are here:
Business & Finance
The Great Debate
Do More With Reuters
Make Reuters My Homepage
Support (Customer Zone)
About Thomson Reuters
Working women in front line of slowdown
Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:33pm EDT
Email | Print |
| Reprints | Single Page
By Thin Lei Win
BANGKOK (Reuters) - When a major swimwear factory in Bangkok found its sales plummeting in the downturn, it laid off some 1,900 workers, almost all of them women.
That didn't surprise labor activists who say women are the most vulnerable workers in recessions, especially in low wage industries in developing countries where gender equality lags.
"Even before the crisis, there were differences in the labor market situation between women and men," said Gyorgy Sziraczki, a senior economist at the International Labor Organization's Asia- Pacific headquarters.
"Fewer women are working then men, and women also have a much larger share of vulnerable employment. The crisis to a certain extent has widened the gap."
Garment worker Chalad Chaisaeng is a case in point. After working for 15 years at the Bangkok swimwear factory, she is struggling to support her two children, ill husband and parents with her severance pay of around 110,000 baht (around $3,300).
"I did not expect the company to do this. I am a good worker," said Chaisaeng.
Millions of female workers across the region will face Chaisaeng's plight, according to economists and activists who say women, especially those in low-skilled contract and temporary employment, are particularly susceptible to the downturn.
The latest figures for Asia by the International Labor Organization (ILO) project a 5.7 percent rise in unemployed women in 2009, compared to 4.9 percent for men.
Lucia Victor Jayaseelan of Committee for Asian Women, a Bangkok-based network of over 40 women's groups in 14 Asian countries, said women will form the majority of the up to 27 million expected to lose their jobs in the Asia-Pacific in 2009.
"Because the sectors that are affected are the manufacturing sector, tourist sector and migrant workers, it will be at least 80 to 90 percent women," she said.
"We have a growing informal sector and a growing migrant population (predominantly women), completely unprotected by legislation or any form of social security."
MAKING ENDS MEET
Exact country-specific unemployment figures are hard to come by as many developing countries do not carry out labor force surveys. In addition, in absolute terms, men still outnumber women in global unemployment.
However in Asia, the concentration of women in export-driven industries such as garments, textiles and electronics, which have been hit hardest by the crisis, is much higher than men.
Wage gaps between men and women, a bias toward males as perceived breadwinners and the multiple roles women play today have also made female workers more vulnerable, experts say. Continued...
View article on single page
Heavy rains, landslides kill 66 in southern China
Also on Reuters
Commentary: Fed volunteers to burst bubble
Starbucks and McDonald's carve coffee niches
House husbands go for TV glory in new U.S. show
More International News
Britain and U.S. defend war effort in Afghanistan
Stray South Korea fishing boat held in North
U.S. unsure on success of Pakistan's Swat offensive
Honduran leader softens tone in fight over Zelaya
China publicizes list of Uighur fugitives
More International News...
A selection of our best photos from the past 24 hours. Slideshow
Most Popular on Reuters
Organic food is no healthier, study finds
As U.S. recession bites, Ohio hopes fade for Obama
Madoff gives feeder fund managers' names to lawyer
Unemployment spreads distress in U.S. home loans
House Democrats reach deal on healthcare bill
House Democrats clinch healthcare deal
Starbucks, McDonald's carve coffee niches
Canadians cry foul over U.S. healthcare attacks
Foxconn suicide turns spotlight on China counterfeiting
Facing budget gaps, U.S. states shuffle tax codes: group
Most Popular Articles RSS Feed
US, UK meet on Afghanistan
Obama steps up healthcare push
Obama sees U.S. economy improving
Drug crackdown in Mexico
Jackson doctor update
Spain bomb targets police
Opposition clashes in Kyrgyzstan
Ukraine border visa troubles
Uighur leader calls for probe
Schwarzenegger slashes spending
Most Popular Videos RSS Feed
Help and Contact Us |
Advertise With Us |
Site Index |
Thomson Reuters Corporate:
Professional Products |
Professional Products Support |
About Thomson Reuters |
Latin America |
United Kingdom |
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.