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The numbers are crushing: By the end of April last year, less than half of the women in Brazil were employed, the lowest level in 30 years. In Australia, around the same time, nearly a tenth of women exited the workforce, while in Japan, women lost jobs at nearly twice the rate of men. In March, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris deemed the exodus a “national emergency,” with 3.5 million mothers of school-aged children in the country having left their jobs between March and April 2020.

“You can’t be a prosperous country with half of your workforce sitting on the sidelines,” said Titan Alon, assistant professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego.

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