COVID-19 Recovery and Beyond: An African Feminist Vision for Macroeconomic System Change

  • Wangari Kinoti
  • Fatimah Kelleher


This article provides an analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of women
in Africa and the extent to which government policies designed to respond to the
social and economic shocks caused by the pandemic have addressed wider, persistent
gender inequalities. We argue that while there have been some laudable policy efforts
across the continent, they have not only been largely gender-blind, but have also
potentially deepened gender inequalities. We find that although some measures like
cash transfers, various forms of tax cuts and public employment schemes may have
benefited women, they did not take into account the more systemic and gendered
exclusionary factors, such as the ability to access payment infrastructure and digital
financial services, household care burdens and division of labour, access to decent
paid work and the dynamics of formal versus informal work. Containment measures
were implemented without much evidence for mitigation planning around increased
unpaid care and domestic workloads or escalations in gender-based violence. We
make the case for a rethink of the predominant economic models that have kept
Africa in a financial chokehold, severely limiting the ability of governments to
deliver on the social and economic rights of their people. Ultimately, we draw on
African feminist positions to recommend a set of policy directions that could form
the backbone for fundamental system change, which, as this pandemic has shown
us, is crucial for the economic health of the continent and the wellbeing of the
African people.