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Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 on Wage Earnings for Female Domestic Workers in the Informal Economy in Ecuador and Brazil 39 vulnerable population are job insecurity, loss of wages, lack of representation, limitedknowledgeabout their available rights and resources, and lack of vocational training or resources to learn new skills. In Brazil and Ecuador, most poor and vulnerable workers, among them the many female domestic workers, are directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis (OECD). In Ecuador, the vast majority of domestic workers are working without contracts or with contracts that offer little protection. Nearly 85% of domestic workers have been fired during the pandemic, according to the national union (Global Voices). In Brazil, unemployment increased by 4.9 million people between March and April, yet only a million formal jobs were lost in that same period, suggesting the informal sector has been greatly impacted by the pandemic (Prates & Barbosa). The measures taken to mitigate the spread of the virus have strongly affected the informal economy.Women, in particular,arethemosthigh-riskandvulnerablepopulationto losing wages (Vaillancourt-Laflamme). Interestingly, upper- middle-income countries, such as Ecuador and Brazil, have the greatest disparities between male and female workers in the informal economy affected by the pandemic (ILO b). The gender pay gap in Ecuador is 7.4% lower for women compared to men, with the widest gap being on the lower end of the pay spectrum. The most dramatic pay gap, however, is in ethnic differences, with minorities making 44.9% less than the rest of the population (Ñopo&Gallardo). This becomes important when looking at the demographics of domestic workers in Ecuador, where the indigenous population is overrepresented in domestic employment (Vaillancourt-Laflamme). Officially, the unemployment rate among female workers in Ecuador increased to only 5.23% in the third quarter of 2020, from 4.90% in the fourth quarter of 2019. The unemployment rate among female workers in Brazil increased to 14.3% in the three months, August to October of 2020, up from 13.8% in the preceding May to July period (Figure 1) (ILOStat). Moreover, the pandemic lockdown has led to massive income lossesandinequalityamong informalworkers,where,without any alternative sources of income, lost earnings can result in an increase of relative poverty for those workers—96% of informal workers living in Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing either full or partial lockdown, which has led the ILO to expect the relative poverty rate to increase to 90.1% during the COVID-19 period (ILO b). This crisis has created an increase in job insecurity among informal workers, forcing them to accept jobs for much lower wages than they had before the pandemic. Several other matters further compound the already difficult situation. In this regard, unions have a poor reputation among the residents of these countries and often are associated with political agendas. This perception presents a barrier to organizing workers to improve representation (Vaillancourt-Laflamme). There is also an indisputable lack of communication between government and the informal workforce, which makes it difficult for government to know what is needed for the workers and for workers to recognize their rights and resources available to them. Additionally, domestic workers often are not documented and prefer not to speak about the subject. It thus is hard to identify and create policies that are helpful because theseworkers are distrustful of government representatives, and they have little or no incentive to work with them to enact legislation that would alleviate the challenges they face. Policy Options There are several policies that the governments of Ecuador and Brazil can implement to address the issues surrounding the impact of COVID-19 on the female domestic workforce. Perhaps the very first step should be government aid in es- tablishing safety protocols to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Other important measures to consider adopting in response to the damage that COVID-19 brought upon do- mestic workers include education and awareness, replacing lost jobs, retraining to teach new skills, and government sub- sidies in the form of economic relief, grants, or tax credits. To promote public awareness, an app called “TRH Unidas” was launched in Ecuador, which aims to improve the rights and working conditions of domestic workers. However, there Figure 1 Data Source: ILOStat.