Long-standing socio-economic inequalities and gendered social norms have meant that women and girls have faced heightened challenges in finding employment, especially ‘decent work’, outside the home and receiving compensation and respect for unpaid social reproductive work. Meanwhile, the right of girls and women to education has gone unprotected by governments’ failures to take girls’ experiences into account. In this chapter, we focus on how these long-term failures have intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic. We look particularly at the impacts on women who work in un- and under-paid employment, showing how these women have endured heightened risks to their economic security, and argue that government response has been weak and limited. Then we discuss the impact of the pandemic on girls’ education. We recognize that important gains had been made in terms of girls’ access to education in low- and middle-income countries over the last 20 years and ask how far have these gains been undermined by government failures during the pandemic.
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