The Secondary Impacts of COVID-19 on Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa

8th June 2020
Author: Geraldine Hutchinson, Tal Rafaeli

This rapid review focuses on identifying evidence on the secondary impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It aims to enable a greater understanding of the unique circumstances of women and girls in the region, which could assist with the provision of effective support throughout the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath. Guided by available evidence, the review explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and girls in SSA across various issues. These include some of the following – girls’ education, social protection, unintended pregnancies, access to health services, poverty, livelihood, land rights, women’s and girls’ informal employment, food security and nutrition, female health workforce, and access to WASH. The review touches upon, but does not thoroughly investigates the following topics as they are considered in other reviews – Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), girls’ and women’s rights, child marriage, harmful social norms, and women’s political participation, leadership and empowerment. Despite the limited data, the review found that based on emerging evidence and lessons from past health crises, there is strong evidence to suggest that women and girls in SSA will suffer from extreme and multifaceted negative secondary impact as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Some of which may include higher poverty rates, increase in unplanned pregnancies, a surge in school dropout rates and child labour of adolescent girls, loss of income and reduced financial empowerment, increased household work, reduced access to healthcare and WASH alongside increased maternal deaths, and greater food insecurity and malnutrition.

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Suggested Citation

Rafaeli, T. and Hutchinson, G. (2020). The Secondary Impacts of COVID-19 on Women and Girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. K4D Helpdesk Report 830. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


8th June 2020


Continent: Africa