Women in Latin America are giving up on work or struggling to find jobs as the pandemic threatens to wipe out a decade of female economic progress, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Across Latin America, women's labor force participation fell to about 46% in 2020 from 52% a year earlier, according to the report by the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL).

In the same period, the rate for men fell to 69% from 73.6%.

"The economic and social effects of the pandemic are expected to have a significant impact on the autonomy of women," the report said.

The unemployment rate for women reached an estimated 12% last year, CEPAL said.

In the previous three decades, it had said the percentage of women in the labor market in Latin America had increased by 11 points, a faster gain than in other regions of the world.

Now shutdowns and the economic fallout of COVID-19 have worsened inequalities between men and women, studies show.

"Its fundamental to create a new fiscal pact that promotes gender equality and that avoids deepening the poverty levels of women," Alicia Barcena, executive secretary of CEPAL, said in a statement.

Read the full article about women's economic losses by Christine Murray at Global Citizen.