The Future of Work for Women in the Pacific Islands
The Future of Work for Women in the Pacific Islands highlights challenges and opportunities women face in the context of the pandemic, climate change, and the imperatives of technology-led change. Across the Pacific there are pronounced gender disparities in labor market participation and the types and level of work women and men perform. Pacific women are overwhelmingly employed in the informal economy, and with the combination of Covid-19 and climate related events many have lost their jobs or faced barriers to engaging in small-scale income generation in the context of mobility restrictions, the decimation of the travel industry, and a dramatic drop in demand. The paper analyzes emerging opportunities for quality employment and entrepreneurship for Pacific women both locally and abroad and offers strategies to improve women’s preparation for and access these opportunities. Fields such as education, healthcare, and community service, where women predominate, are expected to grow. New jobs will also be created in green energy, infrastructure, ICT, and other STEM-based fields, and skills-building will be required to ensure that women benefit from these more secure, higher paying and influential positions in the future.
The paper concludes with recommendations for responding to these issues and trends, recognizing that the massive disruptions wrought by Covid-19 and accelerating climate related events also present important opportunities: to shift thinking, systems, resources, and structures through proactive policies and reforms that support a transition toward greener, more resilient Pacific economies and a more inclusive labor force.