A recent study by the World Bank has shown that working females in Malawi are a long way from returning to levels reported before the Covid-19 outbreak.
The study, titled The Labour Market Impacts of Covid-19 In Four African Countries (April-October 2020), show that the number of working females went down by 9.2 percent from 64.8 percent in 2019 to 55.6 percent in October 2020.
Reads the report in part: “Labour markets have been a key transmission mechanism of the economic effects of Covid-19. Tracking the development of labor markets is, therefore, paramount to better understand the impacts of the pandemic.
“In Malawi, females are a long way from returning to levels reported before the Covid-19 outbreak. As of October 2020, male respondents are 4.4 percentage points less likely to work (66.5-70.9), which is similar to the gap for males in Nigeria.”
The bank said that as the pandemic is still ongoing, policies need to focus on the vulnerable groups that have been hit hardest as the working-age women are recovering slower in-terms of their economic participation in labour markets and that the urban sector has been hit the hardest.
According to the study, there is substantial variation in job losses across the four countries which were placed under study with figures showing that 44.6 percent in Nigeria that were working before the outbreak reported that they lost their jobs for reasons related to the pandemic, while in Uganda, this share was 16.9 percent, in Ethiopia 8.4 percent and in Malawi 6.6 percent.
Reads the study in part: “In all countries, urban jobs were hit hardest. In urban Nigeria, 56 percent of people with jobs before the pandemic stopped working compared to 40 percent in rural Nigeria.
This pattern is followed by Uganda, [29 percent versus 11 percent], Ethiopia (12 percent versus 6 percent), and Malawi (eight percent versus six percent].”
Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued to rise, averaging K208 000 in the first half of this year with the minimum wage mantained at K50 000 per month and a tax-free bracket of K100 000.
In an interview, Centre for Social Concern economic governance programme officer Bernard Mphepo said the high cost of living entails that majority of Malawians are not able to meet the cost of essential services such as health and education.
Speaking earlier, Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito said the current economic situation has negatively impacted heavily on all sectors of life.