The Gendered Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Mauritania

The Gendered Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Mauritania
Photo: Image by Karine for Anti-Slavery International,

Federica Lombardi,

Africa Team Research Intern,

Global Human Rights Defense 

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had disruptive effects on everyone’s life. However, it is no mystery that individuals and communities who were already suffering from discrimination and marginalization have been rendered even more vulnerable. This has been the case for female-headed households in Mauritania. Mauritanian female couscousiéres have been particularly affected by the economic difficulties caused by COVID-19 containment measures, with many seeing their already insecure jobs in the informal sector of the economy rendered even more unstable. The curfew mandated by the Mauritanian government has caused some women to see their salaries reduced by up to 70%. These women have been faced with obstacles such as state negligence, officials’ bias and the lack of transparency when trying to access welfare programs meant to assist people in their situation. Furthermore, the fact that most of them work in informal sectors of the economy, over which the Labour Department has no jurisdiction, further exposes them to vulnerability and abuse. 


Raby Idoumou, ‘Mauritania: Female-Headed Households Coping with the Burden of Covid-19’ (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 20 September 2021). Accessed at