African Girls in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Authored by: Nana Ndeda, Nastasia Thebaud-Bouillon-Njenga

Categories: Global Public Health, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies
Sub-Categories: COVID-19, Economic Participation, Economic Recovery, Human Development, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Sexual and Reproductive Health
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa
Year: 2020
Citation: Ndeda, Nana. "African Girls in the COVID-19 Pandemic." Plan International. August 2020.

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Executive Summary

Adolescent girls are disproportionately impacted during crises and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. This is especially because they often are forced to assume adult roles and care responsibilities, are at a heightened risk of violence, discrimination, and exclusion, and are often overlooked from responses that do not address their unique vulnerabilities and the underlying causes of the discrimination they face.

Africa holds the highest number of acutely food insecure people – especially in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel and Southern Africa.v In May 2020, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that over 40 million people across West Africa are facing desperate food shortages in the coming In East Africa, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) is warning that the number of people facing crisis level food insecurity or worse will be 25% to 30% higher than before the onset of COVID-19.vii Elsewhere in Southern Africa, measures aimed at containing COVID-19 are threatening food security in the region due to reduced agricultural production, with several countries still impacted by continued climatic shocks.

Active participation of women and girls in contributing to food security is increasingly being challenged by ongoing disruptions to food production and access as a result of COVID-19 containment measures, impeding their future socio-economic prospects. Food insecurity is also compounding adolescent girls’ protection risks, especially those living in poor, high density, under served urban areas in the growing cities across Africa.