The demographic dimension of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its repercussions on women and girls, particularly in Africa, cannot be underestimated, and must be urgently addressed.
This call to action came from the Director of Programs at the EJS Center, Rumbidzai Chisenga, during her participation in an Atlantic Dialogues panel discussion on the demographic changes brought about by COVID-19.
Ms. Chisenga warned of the pandemic’s impact on girls’ and women’s education and employment prospects. She highlighted the alarming statistics around the number of African girls who are at risk of not returning to school, and the long-term effect this risks having on the continent’s human capital. She also drew attention to the effect COVID-19 has had on employment conditions for women, particularly in the informal sector.
Asked whether enough measures were being taken around the world to help women and girls cope with the current demographic challenges, Ms. Chisenga said:
“What happened during COVID was that we started to see that we are losing ground even on the small gains that we have made. I think a frank answer to your question would be that we’re not doing enough and we definitely need to do more.”
Ms. Chisenga was quick to point out that a step in the right direction to mitigate the impact of the pandemic would be for women to be given opportunities to take up leadership positions. She argued that the pandemic had revealed the depth of women’s strength, competency, and leadership skills, as demonstrated by the strong economic recoveries seen in countries led by women.
The EJS Center, she continued, is helping to increase African women’s representation in leadership positions across all sectors by working hard through the Amujae Initiative to help them reach the highest levels of public life.
“This is work that we are taking seriously. We are not just preaching to others.”
You can watch the full panel discussion here: https://youtu.be/gruPn15z6Mg