UNECA warns COVID-19 pandemic to amplify existing gender disparities

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 5, 2020
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ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Friday warned that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could amplify existing gender disparities in Africa, eventually leading to worse outcomes for women.

The remark was made by Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Director of the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division at the ECA, during an online campaign on the gendered effects of the coronavirus pandemic, dubbed "Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC)."

"Unless a gender perspective is embraced in COVID-19 recovery initiatives, the ongoing global health pandemic will amplify existing gender disparities leading to worse outcomes for women in terms of livelihoods and well-being," the ECA director told the virtual event.

Ruzvidzo said COVID-19 recovery policy initiatives need to embrace a gender perspective to lessen deepening vulnerabilities of women, especially cross border traders.

"Women in African countries are in general concentrated in necessity-driven entrepreneurship in the services sector, market activities and cross-border trade in the informal economy. It is expected that the knock-on effects of border closures and market restrictions to deal with COVID-19 will be significant," she said.

The ECA director further noted that women in the informal economy are more often found in the most vulnerable situations.

"Female predominance in informal cross-border trade is often attributed to women's time and mobility constraints, as well as to their limited access to productive resources and support systems, making such activities one of the few options available to them to earn a living," said Ruzvidzo.

The ECA director also stressed that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement presents new opportunities for women in Africa which can help in accelerating their economic empowerment in the aftermath of COVID-19 and related recovery efforts.

"Although there is no separate chapter on trade and gender in the AfCFTA, the agreement recognizes the importance of promoting gender equality," she said, highlighting various aspirations of the continental free trade pact that specifies that the AfCFTA aspiration towards the promotion and attainment of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation.

"Gender mainstreaming in AfCFTA national implementation strategies is a key strategy to advance the objective of gender equality under the AfCFTA Agreement," said Ruzvidzo. Enditem

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