British Virgin Islands COVID-19 Macroeconomic and Human Impact Assessment Data
Based on research conducted by Dr. Simon Naitram
Women are the majority of clerks, service workers and shop and market sales workers, and professionals. While skilled professionals can work from home where feasible, the rest of these women are severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis: the women working in tourism and in non-essential services are not earning a wage, with women working in tourism out of a job for an unknown amount of time. On the other hand, women who work in essential services continue working and struggle to cope with any childcare duties they might have. As a third of women are single mothers, there are two further issues arising: feeding their children for the unemployed women, looking after and homeschooling them for essential workers.
The report recommends examining the use of the framework created for the Financial Assistance Programme after Hurricanes Irma and Maria to provide temporary, expanded income support which would cost around USD$12 million at the lower end; exploring the provision of liquidity for small firms to preserve livelihoods through deficit financing or government guarantees; an extension to the period for work permit holders to find new jobs and the implementation of rapid work permit transfers to mitigate outward migration. Longer term, the report proposes a rigorous assessment of the current level of poverty to inform the design and implementation of an expanded, gender-responsive Public Assistance Programme and the development of a permanent unemployment benefit fund.