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Asia: Women in low-paid informal work suffer job insecurity because of virus pandemic

"From nannies to helpers, coronavirus spotlights Asia women's job insecurity," 13 March 2020

When coronavirus began to spread around the world...Hong Kong babysitter Tina Yeung found herself out of work - one of many Asian women whose jobs in informal sectors are threatened by the pandemic.

Asian women in low-paid informal work such as cleaning and cooking or caring for children, many without proper contracts or social protection, are bearing the brunt of widespread job cuts, experts say.

Babysitter.hk, a Hong Kong website which links nannies to parents, said about one-tenth of its network of 4,000 women had no work last month.

Informal employment is prevalent for both men and women across Asia, according to the United Nations.

Women more often work in precarious and lower-paid sectors like domestic work and agriculture, lacking benefits like pensions and parental leave.

“Women are hit harder by economic impacts such as those COVID-19 is driving, especially as women disproportionately work in insecure labour,” said Mohammad Naciri, the head of UN Women in Asia.

The Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body (AMCB), a regional domestic workers’ advocacy group, said hundreds of women from the Philippines or Indonesia were likely to lose their job as the economy slowed and families let go of their helpers.

The two countries are leading providers of foreign helpers, with women bolstering their economies by sending back millions of dollars each year in remittances.