COVID is Reversing Decades of Progress for Rural Women and Girls

When Idris and I visited Sierra Leone last December, the optimism was palpable. The country was back on its feet after a bitter civil war and an Ebola outbreak in 2014. We met resourceful, resilient women like Isatu, a mother of four, who was transforming swampland into paddy fields with the help of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). She trusted IFAD because it had not abandoned her village when Ebola struck. The agency stayed and supported farmers with access to finance in their most desperate hour.

Back in December, we did not know that a pandemic was about to hit us. And while its impact on our lives in the West has been chronicled exhaustively, we hear little about its effect on the most vulnerable people of all – the 1.7 billion women and girls, more than one-fifth of all humanity, who live in rural areas around

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