Gendered impacts of COVID-19 and social protection responses in rural areas


Gender norms and inequalities disproportionately expose rural women to shocks and stresses; the economic and social fallout from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Evidence is emerging that COVID-19 and related containment measures are having strongly gendered impacts across many domains and that rural women and girls face specific challenges due to traditional gender norms, limited infrastructure and services, informality, and disruptions to rural livelihoods and schooling. These domains of inequality are especially pronounced for people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, indigenous people, the elderly, migrants, and informal and seasonal workers.

Compounding this, rural women are less likely to have access to adequate social protection than their urban and male counterparts despite the potential of social protection to improve the lives of rural women and girls. Because social protection has emerged as a crucial component in COVID-19 response, it is essential that gender-responsive measures are included that support the livelihoods of women and men engaged in agriculture and address existing gender inequalities in rural settings. Given the vital role that rural women play in agri-food systems and in household food security, policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis that fails to consider gender will slow or harm longer-term recovery. 

This webinar:
  • Presented an overview of the gendered dimensions of the response to COVID-19 in rural areas;
  • Highlighted ways in which social protection can be made gender-sensitive in the context of emergencies, specifically COVID-19;
  • Presented the situation on the ground for rural women using the case of The Gambia; and
  • Featured a panel discussion with representatives from three countries that highlighted the importance of women’s leadership in ensuring that rural women’s specific needs are addressed in the design and implementation of social protection in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.



Mr. Máximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economist, Food and Agriculture Organization

Ms. Susan Kaaria, Senior Gender Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization

Ms. Zahra Lillian Mokgosi, Programme Policy Advisor, World Food Programme

H.E. Nivine El-Kabbag, Minister of Social Solidarity, Government of Egypt

Ms. Renana Jhabvala, Chairperson SEWA Bharat, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), India

Mrs. Rohie Bittaye-Darboe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Government of The Gambia



Mr. Benjamin Davis, Director, Division for Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equity, Food and Agriculture Organization



Please find below the three-part FAO Toolkit on gender-sensitive social protection programmes to combat rural poverty and hunger in English, French and Spanish:


Technical guide 1

Technical guide 2

Technical guide 3


Guide Technique 1

Guide Technique 2

Guide Technique 3


Guía Técnica 1

Guía Técnica 2

Guía Técnica 3


This was the twenty-ninth webinar of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join the online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.

The SPIAC-B Gender Working Group, consisting of representatives from several agencies, including UNICEF, DFID, FAO, IPC-IG, UNICEF Innocenti, UN Women among others, is organising webinars of the larger Social Protection responses to COVID-19 webinar series. You can join the Gender-Responsive Social Protection Online Community if you are interested in learning about the gender impacts of COVID-19.