Women workers have stood out as particularly vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19 – a fact that is heavily emphasised throughout this volume. In this chapter, authors Lee Min Hui and Sofea Azahar of ISIS Malaysia look deeper into the “she-cession” catalysed by economic shocks during Covid-19. The pandemic disproportionately affected women, who experienced more negative labour impacts and whose recovery in the endemic phase has been considerably slower. Locating the source of inequality in the burden of care shouldered by women across households, the chapter delves into the necessity of a care-centred approach in policymaking. But existing labour laws, such as the Employment Act 1955, are unlikely to bring about such change and undermined by implementation challenges. By further juxtaposing the care policy packages across Asia, policies like maternity and paternity leave, shared parental leave and childcare support are vital for the formation of a gender-responsive and family-friendly labour future for workers.

By Lee Min Hui & Sofea Azahar

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