(WORLD BANK BLOGS) – As COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreads across the globe, the disease is projected to take an immense human toll on Sub-Saharan Africa, infecting at least 110 million people in the region. The immediate economic consequences of the pandemic for African economies are also estimated to be severe, resulting in the first regional recession in nearly 25 years and pushing an estimated 23 million more people into extreme poverty.
In the face of the human and economic crisis caused by COVID-19, existing gender inequalities in economic opportunities may worsen, as was seen in previous large-scale health shocks such as the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic. For example, in Liberia, women experienced worse job losses and remained out of work longer than men, since women worked disproportionately in the hardest-hit sectors. Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone, school closures and curtailed economic opportunitiesled girls to spend more time with men, increasing their likelihood of becoming pregnant and leaving school.
Policymakers working to address the critical health and economic challenges facing the region can draw on evidence from impact evaluations across the continent. A new brief based on research from the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab, provides useful lessons on policy options to build women’s economic resilience.