UN makes new appeal for women, hard-hit by virus job losses

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United Nations (United States) (AFP)

The United Nations called Thursday for women to be at the heart of economic reconstruction efforts as the world grapples with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, warning that most women face a greater risk of poverty.

Although COVID-19 mortality rates appear to affect men more than women, the pandemic "is having devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls," UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned in a statement.

"Nearly 60 per cent of women around the world work in the informal economy, earning less, saving less, and at greater risk of falling into poverty. I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID19," he said.

"I urge governments to put women and girls at the centre of their efforts to recover from COVID19, to put women’s leadership and contributions at the heart of resilience and recovery."

Millions of women's jobs have already been lost, the UN said in a report published to accompany the statement.

"Teenage girls out of school may never return," Guterres continued. "Progress lost takes years to regain.

Guterres spoke as world powers scrambled on Thursday to build a global response to the human tragedy and once-in-a-century economic collapse caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

"We anticipate the worst economic fallout since the Great Depression," said IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, warning that all but a handful of countries will see incomes fall and urging governments to provide "lifelines" to businesses and households alike.

Guterres had already called on governments on Sunday to do more to protect women and girls from domestic and family violence, which is on the rise with hundreds of millions of people around the world ordered to stay home.