Coronavirus is setting back equality for women

Women in South Africa are losing their jobs at twice the rate of men, according to one of the first studies of the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on a developing country.

The World Today
2 minute READ

Nairomi Eriksson

Former Coordinator, Communications and Publishing

Employment in South Africa dropped from 17 million to 14 million between February and April of this year. Women accounted for two-thirds of the job losses, and even when still working they were particularly affected by reduced hours.

The Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey was conducted by researchers from five South African universities. While the findings are provisional – the research continues throughout 2020 – they confirm evidence from around the world that the effects of COVID-19 threaten to overturn the slow progress towards gender equality of the past decades.

The study concludes that the coronavirus pandemic has been ‘the largest social and economic shock in our lifetime’. The results show that it has exacerbated South Africa’s existing inequalities in race, gender, earnings and other areas.

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