In June 2020, the Nigerian Women Trust fund (NWTF) rolled out rapid assessment surveys to capture the gendered consequences of the covid-19 pandemic on women in Nigeria. The survey sought to explore how women and girls’ lives are changing in the face of COVID-19 pandemic and outlined suggested priority measures to accompany both the immediate response and longer-term recovery efforts.
After weeks of collation and analysis, the results revealed that while pandemics generally affects everyone, it affects women and girls more than it affects men. More women are at risk during this pandemic because of the multi-dimensional role they play as caregivers, mothers, wives, etc. Also, women work in the front lines of health services, caregiving, cleaning, and other essential roles where they are at high risk of contracting the infection. The results highlighted the gendered dimension of the pandemic in the following ways:
Women, particularly those without a college degree, suffered more job losses than men and bore significantly greater responsibility for childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. While men are more likely to die from infection by COVID-19, overall, the pandemic has had a disproportionately detrimental impact on the mental health of women, particularly those with kids. Considering women already shouldered a greater burden for childcare prior to the pandemic, it’s unsurprising the demands are now even greater.
Women in Nigeria are concentrated in informal sectors and industries hardest hit by lock down and isolation measures, a higher proportion of women have lost their jobs in the early stages of the pandemic. Unlike men, their chances of entering wage work – a job with a salary and an employer which tends to offer the best working conditions in terms of both remuneration and security – does not increase with age. The pandemic has exposed the economic realities of women in Nigeria to show that women are represented in jobs that are:
- Low skilled
- Low paid
- Jobs without any form of insurance
- Part-time jobs
- Cross border traders
The pandemic is intensifying economic barrierss women already face throughout Nigeria, and the survey suggests that long term, pandemics can take a higher toll on women’s incomes than men’s. Poverty in Nigeria is already gendered. Women make up 60 percent of those in Nigeria who are economically “struggling”, meaning that they report difficulty covering basic expenses and may need grant support to get by.
Women in Nigeria have been struggling with gender equality. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s representation in leadership and governance has been low; 2019 being the worst for women politically. With COVID-19, women were still not adequately represented in the National and State Task forces across all states in Nigeria.
Women than men took on childcare duties after schools closed in response to the coronavirus: 76% of women in early reported being the only household member providing care, compared to 12% of men. The disparity was notable among working parents, including those working from home.
Despite Governments promise to relieve the situation of citizens through the provision of social intervention in the form of palliatives, over 70 percent of women agreed that they did not receive any form of palliatives from either the Federal or State governments.
The pandemic magnified existing inequalities. Many women have stopped working through no fault of theirs. Since many women are represented in insecure sectors such as restaurants, hotels and hospitality, which has been hardly hit by the pandemic leading to more job losses.
These and many more are the findings from the survey. Do visit our website on www.womenfund.org for more information and full details of the report. Also follow us on twitter at womenfund.org.