Identifying and analysing the most vulnerable female segments under COVID-19

Identifying and analysing the most vulnerable female segments under COVID-19

16 October, 2020    

How can we strengthen female resilience in a COVID-19 context? 

The COVID-19 pandemic and related measures are affecting women’s lives disproportionately and differently to those of men. This is due to several reasons; generally, women earn less, hold less secure jobs, and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector and sectors more likely affected by lockdowns, and carry a larger burden of unpaid care work, among others. Under the current pandemic, these existing gaps in financial and economic health are increasing.

Across the world, over 200 countries have expanded or introduced new social protection measures to help their citizens face the shocks of the pandemic. For example, South Africa increased cash grants for children and introduced a 6-month COVID-19 grant for those not receiving any other government support. And Kenya has committed an additional KES 10 billion to the elderly, orphans and other vulnerable members of society through cash transfers.

It is vital that such initiatives reach the most vulnerable in society. Implementing gender-intentional relief policies in practice can be hampered by lack of gender data, especially on different segments of women. Indeed, women are not a homogenous group and certain segments of women are more vulnerable than others.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Cenfri has used a number of datasets to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on different segments of women in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and to identify relevant insights about their coping mechanisms after past shocks, and their broader financial behaviour.

In this report, we present our insights and a set of considerations to support the most vulnerable segments of women in Kenya and Nigeria. Using data from various Finscope surveys and the COVID-19 Tracker, we show:

  • The magnitude of the effect of COVID-19 on their financial lives;
  • A high-level overview of relevant insights into their past coping mechanisms in the face of shocks; and
  • An overview of current touchpoints that can be considered when designing relief policies.

These insights should be taken into account when designing policies to provide relief – including, but not limited to, digital cash transfer policies. In order to learn more about ongoing initiatives for women, especially in the context of COVID-19, we are keen to hear about your experiences around practical considerations on how to reach the most vulnerable women, their needs and what kind of evidence you have found useful to influence policy decisions.

View the report Size 689 KB
View the slidedeck Size 2.61 MB

If you are interested in learning more about our work in this space, or would like to share your thoughts on these insights, please send an email to Mishkah Abrahams at

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