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In conversation with... Graça Machel

On 26 May, Foundation board member Graça Machel joined some members of the Foundation’s Now Generation Network (NGN) for an online discussion about COVID-19 and how it has affected women and girls in Africa.

The conversation explored the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s and girls’ health, economic and social wellbeing. With 92% of women in sub-Saharan Africa working in the informal sector, the 2021 Ibrahim Forum report highlights that the economic and financial effects of COVID-19 tend to be gendered. This is because women dominate in the low-paying informal sector which is less legally and socially protected and suffers more disruptions during public health emergencies.

The economic downturn brought about by COVID-19 has had a devasting impact on businesses especially micro, small and medium enterprises that are led by women.… Some of these women-led businesses are in dire need of technical, social and financial support.

Anta Ndey Taal, Gambia, NGN member

Acknowledging the crucial role Africa’s youth can play in achieving a more gender-equal continent, some of the participants cited examples of the solutions young Africans are involved in creating.

We know that a lot of women due to lockdown restrictions have had to stay at home and those home environments can be incredibly abusive. Lack of financial means and opportunity exacerbates some of these issues. Some of my colleagues at the London Business School have started a start-up to help victims of gender-based violence find financial support to get out of those situations.

Fedile Kekana, South Africa, NGN member

This intergenerational conversation is part of the Foundation’s In conversation with... series which is connecting young Africans and the Foundation’s leadership.

Watch the discussion: