Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in the COVID-19 Context

When health crises like COVID-19 emerge, the shocks to economic, social, and health systems can have different implications for women and girls, with gendered impacts across various dimensions of wellbeing. This paper, part of a series documenting the gendered impacts of the pandemic, focuses on women’s economic empowerment. It begins with a conceptual framework illustrating how the pandemic, associated response measures, economic contraction and different coping strategies intersect with underlying gender norms and inequality in ways that differentially affect the wellbeing of women and girls. It then synthesizes the existing evidence on how the COVID-19 crisis and associated response measures have impacted women’s paid and unpaid work, entrepreneurship, and earnings across sectors in low- and middle-income countries. The paper proceeds to outline economic response measures from national governments and multilateral development banks and the extent to which gender inequalities have been considered in these measures to date. The paper concludes with recommendations aimed at donors and policymakers to ensure the COVID-19 recovery does not exacerbate pre-existing gender gaps in the economy.

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