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How the closure of COVID-19 schools has forced many women to give up their jobs and careers

How school closings to stop the spread of COVID-19 are forcing many women to give up their careers – amid fears that unemployment will increase among women

  • A majority or 54 percent of people who lost their jobs in April 2020 were women
  • The female employment rate fell by 2.9 percent to a six-year low
  • Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said that school closings hurt women more
  • Here’s how you can help people affected by Covid-19

School closures to slow the spread of the coronavirus hurt more in working women than in men.

The majority of Australians – 54 percent – who lost their jobs in April after COVID-19 peaked were women.

Of the 594,300 people who queued up or quit last month to find work, 325,000 were women and 269,000 were men.

Women’s employment rates also fell 2.9 to a six-year low of 58.4 percent, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

This all happened after the state governments closed the school because non-essential businesses were closed.

School closures to slow down the spread of the coronavirus hurt women more than men. In April, a majority or 54 percent of Australians who lost their jobs were women. Pictured is Brisbane's mother, Zoe Collins, last month teaching her sons Dare5 and Douglas, 7, a balanced home with work tasks

School closures to slow down the spread of the coronavirus hurt women more than men. In April, a majority or 54 percent of Australians who lost their jobs were women. Pictured is Brisbane’s mother, Zoe Collins, last month teaching her sons Dare5 and Douglas, 7, a balanced home with work tasks

Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac, said more women are likely to remain unemployed and discouraged from looking for jobs unless schools reopen soon.

When schools reopen

Victoria: June 9 with a staged reopening from May 26 starting with Prep, Grade 1, Grade 2, Year 11 and Year 12

New South and Queensland: Students came back Monday

Western Australia: Monday, May 18

“With the school closed and many families deciding to keep their children at home from daycare, this likely led to more women than men deciding to stop working and stay at home with the children,” he said.

“If this is due to the loss of services, then that lack of these services is a major barrier to participation, as participation and thus unemployment can increase if these services are restored.”

Coronavirus shutdowns in the last week of March had a disproportionate impact on women, who are more likely to find themselves in the service sector and less stable jobs as their children’s primary caregivers.

Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac, said more women are likely to remain unemployed and discouraged from looking for jobs unless schools reopen soon. Pictured is a sign at Fort Street Public School at Millers Point in Sydney on April 10, 2020

Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac, said more women are likely to remain unemployed and discouraged from looking for jobs unless schools reopen soon. Pictured is a sign at Fort Street Public School at Millers Point in Sydney on April 10, 2020

Justin Smirk, a senior economist at Westpac, said more women are likely to remain unemployed and discouraged from looking for jobs unless schools reopen soon. Pictured is a sign at Fort Street Public School at Millers Point in Sydney on April 10, 2020

“The burden of childcare still falls unevenly on women and a larger proportion of the female workforce works part-time, casually and / or under harsh conditions, so it is not surprising that a larger proportion of women compared to men decided the workforce,” Mr. Smirk.

Women are particularly affected in Victoria, where class lessons will not resume until June 9, as a phased school reopening begins on May 26.

State Labor Prime Minister Dan Andrews is more reluctant to reopen schools than leaders of other states on both sides of politics.

Education unions are reluctant to endorse the idea that teachers return to class quickly as they are exposed to the contracting coronavirus.

Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, has repeatedly said that little COVID-19 was transmitted among children.

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