03/07/2009, 00.00
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Asia, women hardest hit in global economic crisis

In 2009, at least 22 million women will be without jobs. The global rate of female unemployment will be 7.4%, compared to 7% among men. Manual labor for women is being affected by the collapse in the export sector.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In Asia, the global economic crisis is affecting women more than men. The International Labor Organization (ILO) says that the number of unemployed women could reach 22 million.

In 2008, almost half of the three billion workers in the world were women: the rate of female unemployment was 6.3%, compared to 5.9% for men. This year the situation is destined to worsen: the global unemployment rate for women will reach 7.4%, while for men it will stop at about 7%. In the Asia-Pacific region alone, 27 million people will lose their jobs in 2009, and another 140 million will suffer hunger and hardship.

The experts of the ILO stress that the current crisis recalls the one in 1997, during which "in Thailand 95 percent of those laid off from the garment sector were women, in the toys sector it was 88 percent. In Korea 86 percent of those who lost their financial services and banking jobs were female."

Amelita King Dejardin, a researcher at the ILO, has conducted a study analyzing the reasons why the global economic crisis is harder on women in Asia. The document explains that the female labor force is concentrated in the export industries, which are hardest hit by the collapse of the markets. The demand for textile products, electronics, and clothing is in free-fall, and the same is true for activities connected to tourism, including hotels and restaurants.

Dejardin emphasizes that the loss of work among women has more significant repercussions on a larger number of people - primarily the children - and this is true above all for poor families. According to the ILO researcher, the only positive news comes from female migrant workers; in the case of the Philippines, the women employed abroad as nurses or maids are keeping their jobs more than the men are, who are suffering the effects of the crisis in the manufacturing industry, in construction, and in agriculture.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”