This research paper explores the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on women in the informal economy in Zimbabwe. The paper begins with an overview of the outbreak of covid-19 and the state of the informal economy in Zimbabwe. It then looks at women participation in the informal economy, impact of the pandemic on women in the informal economy, national policy responses and opportunities for women in the informal economy. The objective of the research is to understand how women in the informal economy have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Zimbabwe:
• How many women are participating in the informal economy in southern Africa?
• What challenges are women facing in the informal economy?
• How has the pandemic affected them?
• What has been the impact of the pandemic on women in the informal economy in southern Africa?
• What are the opportunities available for women in the informal economy?
• What have been the national responses to support women in the informal economy?
• What are the key policy recommendations at the national and regional level?
This research finds that measures implemented to safeguard lives and contain the spread of covid-19 in Zimbabwe have had an adverse impact on the population in general and on women in the informal economy in particular. Women in the informal economy in Zimbabwe have no social protection or insurance to cushion them against shocks such as natural disasters and pandemics. Even though the majority of them belong to various kinds of informal economy associations, they have been largely excluded from any stimulus packages or grants that the government and other partner organizations have been providing during the lockdown. Female crossborder traders have been hardest hit due to travel restrictions and border closures (from March to November 2020) that have halted their sources of income and livelihood. In conclusion, this research demonstrates that the socio-economic fallout from the coronavirus in Zimbabwe is unprecedented, particularly for women in the informal economy.