Pacific women entrepreneurs suffer more under Covid-19: Trade Commissioner

Photo: UNCDF/John Rea

The head of the Pacific Trade and Investment Commission says women-led businesses in the region are in urgent need of support amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caleb Jarvis says despite most of the region being free of the virus, the economic impact of closed borders has been detrimental.

Jarvis says this is evident in countries reliant on tourism – a sector with a majority of female workers.

From capital to develop and export goods like coffee, to training and support with digital platforms, Mr Jarvis says many women are balancing with being the primary caregivers at home.

According to a survey conducted by PTI, the economic impacts of Covid-19 on female-led businesses in the Pacific continue to rise.

The survey found that 92 percent of women entrepreneurship had dropped in revenue.

Compared to its previous survey, the PTI also found the number of fully-operational female-led businesses had declined from 29 percent to 23 percent.

But it said partially-operational businesses had increased from 19 percent to 41 percent.

Jarvis said the PTI’s findings had correlated a trend published in a recent report by the United Nations titled Policy Brief: The Impact of Covid-19 on Women.

The UN report noted that girls and women suffered more due to many factors such as home schooling, disproportionate lack of access to digital tools, work capital, skills and higher care responsibilities.

The PTI survey also found Covid had a negative impact on the mental health of 31 percent of female-led businesses compared to 14 percent of male businesses.

It said levels of happiness and optimism continued to decline as 45 percent reported they felt worried most of the time or all of the time.

The survey said despite the negative impacts, more female-led businesses were implementing adaptive measures such as pivoting to online business, and seeking rent reductions or relief.

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