COVID-19 is driving women and girls deeper into poverty

Gabrielle Leite and Samrat Maskey

The COVID-19 crisis is threatening to reverse generations of progress in a matter of months. Global poverty is one area we are seeing these shifts most dramatically. Before the pandemic, the poverty rate for women was expected to decrease by 2.7% between 2019 and 2021, but projections now point to an increase of 9.1%. By 2021, the total number of women and girls living on less than $1.90 is forecast to increase to 435 million, with projections showing that this number will not revert to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.


The fallout of the pandemic varies across regions. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of the world’s poorest live, the number of women and girls living in extremely poor households is expected to increase from 249 million to 283 million between 2021 and 2030. Central and Southern Asia will also see a resurgence in extreme poverty. Before the pandemic, projections suggested that Central and Southern Asia would have 15.8% of the world’s women and girls living in extreme poverty by 2030. But now, our revised forecasts put that share at 18.6%. Check out the poverty projections below, by country and region, that show the difference between forecasts estimated before COVID-19, and the revised predictions that account for the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Population of women living below the international poverty line (all ages)

 

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Source: From Insights to Action. See the data tables.

 

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