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Financial Pandemic: Around the world, women are bearing the uneven burden of inflation

Around the world, food and fuel prices are soaring. Annual inflation worldwide hit 9.2% in March, more than twice the rate recorded a year earlier, as pandemic-related shut-downs and the war in Ukraine drove prices sharply higher. 

Rising prices are affecting low-income households the world over, but those in poor countries have been hit particularly hard. Food costs account for 17% of spending in wealthy countries, but as much as 40% in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the global charity Oxfam. In Kenya, it said, nearly half of all households now have to borrow to eat

Some countries have already seen mass protests in response. In Peru, farmers took to the streets to protest rising fertiliser prices that have pushed up the cost of food. In Sri Lanka, record inflation has contributed to anti-government sentiment that has forced the prime minister to step down. There have also been demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia. 

But the impact is not being felt equally. Women are more likely to be the main care-giver in their families. and more likely to be in low-paid work, meaning they devote a higher portion of their income to essentials. They are also more likely to have lost jobs or had their working hours reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected women.

We spoke to women about how rising prices are affecting them.

Photo of a woman heating fire wood beneath a pot inside a room
Feroza Hussein cooks with a firewood stove. Since her family lives in a single room, cooking with firewood presents several risks. (Rikaza Hassan for The Fuller Project)

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Financial Pandemic: A Lima woman is fighting to feed her community as food prices soar

May 20, 2022
Asencia Tuamana, 55, started “Bello Horizonte,” a communal kitchen, in September 2020 to share resources during a nationwide lockdown that left millions of Peruvians with no income.

Financial Pandemic: ‘Sri Lanka is not a country for poor people now’

May 20, 2022
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has permeated all aspects of life for Read Feroza Hussein, who lives on the outskirts of the nation’s capital.

Financial Pandemic: As living costs spiral in Kenya, a mother sacrifices to spare family from ‘dire times’

May 20, 2022
With food prices soaring to over 12% over the past year, the economic repercussions of the pandemic are being heavily felt across Kenya. Women are particularly vulnerable.

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