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The COVID-19 pandemic, and the global lockdown that was put in place to control it, have resulted in the harshest economic crisis since the great depression. The crisis has caused a drastic decline in employment and wages worldwide and threatens to increase the number of people living in poverty for the first time in years. Such effects hit some groups harder than others, and among the most affected by the crisis are women, who suffered more loss in employment than their male counterparts.
This policy brief examines the effect of the COVID-19 crisis on women employment in selected South Mediterranean countries, mainly in North Africa, focusing on the three oil importers in the region, according to the International Monetary Fund’s classification, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, which have more similar economic structures than the oil exporters, Libya and Algeria. The brief highlights how the crisis is affecting women's employment globally then examines its impact on women's employment in the South Mediterranean countries of interest, an impact that might seem mild or even positive at first glance, but proves otherwise through detailed examination.
The brief concludes with discussing the implications of decreasing women's employment and providing policy recommendations, both during the current recession and in the long run, on how to support women's employment in the South Mediterranean, which already lagged behind the world long before the pandemic. It also provides possible axes to empower women and reduce gender inequalities through regional cooperation.
This article is part of the CMI/FEMISE joint “COVID-19 Med Policy Brief Series”, aimed at addressing the urgent issue of the COVID-19 socio-economic effects and impact on the EU-Mediterranean region.