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#GirlontheStreet: How has the pandemic affected your means of livelihood?

Updated: May 13, 2020

This week, as Nigeria and some parts of the larger global community gradually emerge from the shackles of the lockdown, we are exploring the economic impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of women in society.

According to the BBC, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) discovered that the pandemic was likely to have a bigger effect on women's earnings due to the fact that a disproportionate number of women work in high-risk sectors, with 17% of female employees working in shutdown sectors compared with 13% of men.

Society has conditioned and stereotyped many women to find career opportunities in particular sectors like Food, Fashion & Beauty, Hospitality, Sales & Marketing, Administrative & Customer service functions. Research has shown that due to their nature of work, women are more likely at risk of losing their jobs or businesses as a result of the pandemic.

Investigating deep into this issue, we spoke to some women to see how the pandemic has impacted their means of livelihood:

Mary, 33 (Cleaner)

We were not paid salaries last month. The outsourcing firm I work with pays per hour, per shift. No working hours, no pay. So, I have just been managing myself.

Jacinta, 29 (Flight Attendant)

Two weeks into the lockdown, we were asked to go on 30-days unpaid leave. Mind you, this also serves as our annual leave for the year. I cannot blame the airline. Things were already hard as it was. But I am seriously thinking of my future in this career.

Busola, 26 (Restaurant Owner)

My restaurant has been closed down for almost 6 weeks. I have tried pushing my business online but people are not really eager to place orders. A few orders here and there but not like it used to be. I am just happy the lockdown has been lifted. Hoping for the best now.

Marigold, 31 (Banker)

At first, I thought I was not really affected by the pandemic because I was even saving money not going to work every day. Then I got the mail that the Bank was cutting salaries. I began to restructure my whole budget and plans. I just realized that the impact of the pandemic hit me too.

The economic impact of the pandemic on the means of livelihood of women indicates the clear gap that exists in the career opportunities available for men and women. While society conditions and stereotypes more secure career paths to be for men, it pushes women to less secure ones that are clearly at risk in economic meltdowns such as the one ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that more work needs to be done to place more women in industries and sectors that allow for better job security and more importantly economic empowerment.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your means of livelihood? Let us know in the comments section.

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