The International Labor Organization warns the economic crisis is expected to increase the number of unemployed people worldwide between 24 million and 52 million, of which 22 million would be women. At the same time, the ILO reports the deepening recession will make it even more difficult for women to find decent work.
Last year, nearly half of the three billion people employed around the world were women. The International Labor Organization reports the global unemployment rate for women in 2008 was 6.3 percent compared to 5.9 percent for men.
Executive Director of the ILO Employment Sector, Jose Salazar, says things will get worse this year. He says the global unemployment rate for women could reach 7.4 percent, compared to seven percent for men.
"By the end of 2008, working poverty, vulnerable employment and unemployment were beginning to rise as the effects of the economic slowdown spread. With the deepening of the recession in 2009, the global jobs crisis is expected to worsen sharply. Furthermore, we can expect that for many of those who manage to keep a job, earnings and other conditions of employment will deteriorate. In most regions, the impact of the economic crisis in terms of unemployment is expected to be more detrimental for females than for males. This is most clearly seen in Latin America and the Caribbean," he said.
Salazar adds the only regions where unemployment rates are expected to be less detrimental for women are East Asia, the developed economies, non-European Union South Eastern nations as well as the countries of the former Soviet Union.
He says the women in these regions suffer less from unemployment because there was less pronounced gender inequality there preceding the current crisis.
"Apart from the rising unemployment, the economic slowdown is likely to have more important impacts in labor markets in developing regions. Vulnerable employment is expected to rise in 2009 for both men and women, with the impact relatively more severe for men in all scenarios at the global level," he said.
The ILO says more men than women have lost jobs in Western countries. For instance, recent data from the United States shows the economic crisis is hitting men particularly hard. It finds the relative employment losses for men were larger than for women in most sectors of the economy.
The ILO report says men make up two-thirds or more of rich-country workers in mining, manufacturing, energy, construction and transportation. All have been hit hard by the economic downturn.