COVID-19 Could Erase 15 Years of Progress of Eradicating PovertyBy Cas Biekmann | Tue, 05/12/2020 - 18:21
The National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL) published its document, ‘Social policy in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic in Mexico. In it, the council detailed worrying predictions regarding the pandemic’s effect on Mexico’s poverty levels.
The economic havoc caused by COVID-19 could very well push another 10.7 million under the poverty line. The percentage of workers facing precarious conditions could increase up to 45.8 percent, said CONEVAL. This would represent an 8.5 percent increase against the current number. Even though the council predicts multiple scenarios, none of them represent a positive outlook.
The agency criticized that no government programs have been launched to support those who have joined the ranks of unemployment, reported El Economista: “So far, no actions are directed to people who lost their jobs as a result of the health emergency,” said CONEVAL, despite ILO’s early warnings regarding mass lay-offs due to COVID-19. “It is necessary to expand and strengthen developing measures as a response,” the council said.
Furthermore, CONEVAL points out that women will be affected the most by the pandemic, as they are employed in sectors exposed to higher risks. Women represent almost 73 percent of workers in Latin America’s health systems. Precarious working conditions were already problematic in this sector but due to COVID-19, working conditions are worse than ever. Women also take on the brunt of home care and domestic work in Mexico, meaning that domestic workers are also exposed to these issues. People in cities are most at risk, stated the council’s report. This is because there is more contact with others, as well as a general reliance on public transport and the direct need of many citizens to go out on the street because a day without working means a day without food.
Currently, there is little government support for workers who have left their jobs. Even though President López Obrador has called on companies not to fire employees and keep paying wages as usual, some companies are simply not able to cope with this request, especially now that operations have either slowed down or stopped completely. Systems of voluntary pay reductions might not cut it and ideas such as a “solidary salary” are still in the making. Even though predictions on this side are gloomy, there is hope on the horizon, as Mexico’s government has repeated its hope to re-open certain activities and businesses on June 1.