The infographic shows that evidence to date confirms that the COVID-19 crisis has had profound and enormous negative impacts on the education, health, employment and empowerment of girls and women in Sub-Saharan Africa, exacerbating existing inequities and hitting women and girls disproportionally harder across the four dimensions of gender equality – Education, Enhanced health services, Employment, and Empowerment.
What we know is only the tip of the iceberg.
· The pandemic has disrupted education for women and girls who are exposed to distinct risks in terms of access to education and learning outcomes. A study of 193 countries found that women and girls were 1·21 times more likely to report dropping out of school compared with men and boys. In West and Central Africa, 60% of girls were lacking learning materials when school closed compared to 44% of boys.
· The pandemic has impacted health services as overwhelmed health systems, confinement measures, and fear of getting infected make it harder to access health services. Institutional deliveries dropped below pre-pandemic levels in 6 out of 10 SSA countries.
· Many women in Africa work in less secure and lower paying jobs than men, making them more vulnerable to job loss and wage reduction. More women than men reported losing their jobs during COVID-19 in Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, eSwatini and South Africa.
· During public health emergencies, girls and women tend to experience higher risks of Gender Based Violence (GBV), including child marriage. Survey data shows that 68% of respondents in Ethiopia, 70% in South Africa and 81% in Uganda thought that GBV had increased since the onset of the pandemic.
Decision makers are at a pivotal moment to invest now in women and girls by:
· STRENGTHENING social service delivery systems to be more inclusive and resilient to crisis and shocks.
· ENSURING safe and equitable access to social services and opportunities.
· ELIMINATING harmful social norms through policy reforms and community engagement.
· IMPROVING and strengthening the quality, timeliness, and relevance of national data collection systems.