The COVID-19 pandemic has halted or reversed decades of progress on efforts to realise the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Economic downturns tend to affect men and women differently, mainly because of gender-segmentation into different economic sectors, the structure of markets and institutions and associated inequalities, as well as the different roles women and men play in society. Women's shrinking participation in the economy may have negative longer-term effects that extends beyond gender equality. Phenomena linked to unemployment, such as skill erosion, discouragement, loss of business networks and discrimination, may lead to women permanently exiting the labour market with high risks of productivity losses for the broader economy. The course entitled “Women and the COVID-19 pandemic: Building back better, including through trade” will begin by updating delegates on the impact of the pandemic on women and on rescue measures that countries, especially developing and least developed countries, have put in place to help women and businesses limit the pandemic-induced economic shock.
Emerging evidence on impact of COVID-19 shows the pandemic has been especially harmful for women small-scale cross-border traders who handle a significant volume of trade in developing countries. The impact of the pandemic on those already marginalized micro-entrepreneurs will be considered and new strategies that have been put in place, especially by women traders, to adapt and survive in a harsh COVID-19-induced business environment, will be examined. The COVID-19 crisis continues to dominate as African countries turn towards implementing the historic Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Opportunities that the AfCFTA holds for women and women-led businesses will be discussed alongside considerations for transforming the trading paradigm in a COVID-pandemic and post-pandemic environment, so that intra-African trade contributes to inclusive socio-economic development in Africa.The course will conclude with a brief overview of ongoing and future activities of the Trade, Gender and Development Programme.