A series of social and economic factors have made women in Morocco more financially vulnerable than men.
The financial situation of women in Morocco has significantly deteriorated during the COVID-19 crisis, a recent study has found.
Conducted by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning and the UN Women office in Rabat, the study found that women have experienced more financial difficulties during the COVID-19 crisis than men, notably because of their more vulnerable jobs.
“Compared to men, the proportion of women working in the informal sector (trade activity, hairdressing, tailoring, etc.) and in services (hotels, restaurants, tourism) is larger — These sectors were the most affected by the health restrictions induced by the COVID-19 crisis,” the report explained.
“Female workers were relatively more sacrificed during the crisis, across all sectors,” it added.
Approximately 72.2% of women working in commerce completely lost their income during Morocco’s COVID-19 lockdown. Meanwhile, only 45.8% of men working in the sector were no longer able to maintain their livelihood.
The pandemic has affected women more than men across all sectors, including industry (57.9% of women lost their income compared to 52.9% of men), services (41% compared to 33.4%), and agriculture (36.4% compared to 32.5%).
The study also found a linear correlation between the number of women active in the workforce and the decrease in income of Moroccan households.
In other words, families with women who work have suffered greater impacts from the COVID-19 crisis, as a direct result of the high vulnerability of women’s jobs in Morocco.
This category of households mainly includes families headed by single, divorced, or widowed mothers.
According to the report, the average income of Moroccan families during the lockdown ranged from 58% of its pre-crisis level when there is no active woman in the household to 44.4% when women are the sole breadwinners.
After the lockdown, in June 2020, the average revenue showed some increase, but the same observation still applied. The income varied between 65.4% and 58.3%, depending on whether men or women are the ones providing for the family.
Despite having lost more income due to the COVID-19 pandemic than men, women have shown relatively better management of their finances.
While 26% of men heads of families had to dig deep into their savings to survive the lockdown, only 16.2% of their female counterparts did the same.
The report suggested that this might indicate better financial awareness among Moroccan women. However, it also noted that, due to being more prone to precarity, women could simply have less savings than men.
Other aspects of financial management have shown similar rates between men and women. For instance, 13.3% of women and 13.6% of men had to take out loans for subsistence during the COVID-19 crisis, and 36.3% of women and 36.6% of men were able to make ends meet.
The COVID-19 crisis has surely proven difficult for the entire Moroccan society, but the report indicates that gender disparities in Morocco have made riding out the crisis harder for women.
While Morocco has made international-recognized strides towards promoting women’s empowerment, the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a reminder that gender equality can only be achieved when all social classes, especially the most vulnerable, are included in women empowerment initiatives.