Skip to main content

Women Feeding Cities: gender-transformative, resilient and sustainable COVID-19 recovery of the informal food sector in secondary cities

The COVID-19 pandemic increased global food insecurity, deepened gender inequality and created a general crisis in the informal food sector in cities of the Global South. Women in the sector play a central role in mitigating the food insecurity of marginalized social groups, despite their own precarious socioeconomic situation, high rates of business failure, hostile policy environments and minimal social protection. Revitalization and resilience of the informal food sector and its contribution to urban food security are seen as the centre stage of a truly gender-transformative and sustainable pandemic recovery. Because cities are COVID-19 hotspots, it is necessary to examine the pandemic’s effects on various types of cities and their informal food sectors in order to understand what kinds of gender-transformative recovery plans would be most appropriate.

This project is funded through the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF) Special Call on Post-Pandemic Recovery, a partnership between IDRC and Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. This Hungry Cities Partnership (is one of the projects selected and it will examine the food security impacts of COVID-19 on micro-enterprises owned by women in the informal urban food sector, their households and communities. It will be implemented in four secondary cities (Xai Xai, Mozambique; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Oshakati, Namibia; and Cholula, Mexico).

Its objectives are to compare the impact of the pandemic and public health policies on women in the informal food sector in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean; examine the responses and strategies of female-owned enterprises to the COVID-19 pandemic and pandemic recovery challenges; analyze the impact of pandemic disruptions on the food security of female-owned enterprises, their employees, their households and their customers; and mobilize knowledge for the support and sustainability of women’s enterprises in the informal food sector. By incorporating the participation of women food entrepreneurs in research and workshops for the formulation and implementation of recovery plans, this project will also support the empowerment of women.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Sandra Gagnon
Total Funding
CA$ 200,000.00
Institution Country
Project Leader
Jonathan Crush
Wilfrid Laurier University

Projects by Component Institution