Civil society urges African Union to address structural inequalities & impacts on women in COVID-19 response

Author: African Feminism; 300+ civil society signatories, Published on: 18 June 2020

 “African feminist post-COVID-19 economic recovery statement - [joint letter to African Union Special Envoys]”, June 2020

We write this letter to you in your capacities as the Special Envoys that the African Union has mandated to mobilise international support to address the coronavirus pandemic in Africa. [COVID-19] has provided us with an opportunity to…dislodge structural inequality and re-frame the political economy which contributed to this tipping point. Decades of reduced public spending has left millions without access to basic services such as healthcare, whilst the movement towards privatising those services and resources (including water and energy) further compromises equitable access. Additionally, the lack of investment in localised food systems…has had detrimental impacts on African biodiversity and climate resilience.

As COVID-19 continues to move across the continent, the absence of social safety nets needed by women due to their greater fiscal precarity in the face of economic shocks. Indeed COVID-19 has made evident what feminists have long emphasised: that the profits made in economies and markets are subsidised by women’s unpaid care and domestic work–an essential service that even the current pandemic has failed to acknowledge and address in policy.

COVID-19 has shown us where our structural weaknesses are and history has shown us that old ways are not working. We call on you to ensure that you create an open, inclusive and transparent process to shape how you undertake the work and interpret what your efforts at mobilising support produces. This process needs to move beyond just including ‘expert economists’ to also include groups which have been thus far marginalized by the current economic model…

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