Akina Mama wa Afrika is deeply concerned about the gendered implications of the Corona virus pandemic. The human rights situation of women all over the world which was already precarious has been exacerbated by this world wide pandemic.
The rights of women and other marginalized groups have been put aside yet in fact, it is during times like this that women most need protection and support. A pandemic presents a unique opportunity to agitate for the expansion of protections for women because during times like these policies are in flux and priorities can be re-directed.
Governments all over the world are putting in place measures to flatten the curve but there are glaring gaps as they are not cognizant of the special requirements and needs of women.
Sexual and reproductive health services have not been listed as essential. This means that women of reproductive age who are seeking services such as contraception or abortions especially when they are at risk of being found out and persecuted based on religion and culture cannot gain access to these services.
Pregnant women, who are more at risk of contracting the corona virus, have not been adequately protected. They too have to seek permission from their Resident District Commissioner to access medical assistance. This is not feasible in an emergency and puts both mother and child at risk.
With school closures and isolation in homes, women who already bore the brunt of unpaid domestic care work now have to attend to it as a full-time job and for some in addition to their full-time jobs that they are doing from home.
The closure of businesses has had and will continue to have a severe effect on jobs which are dominated by women. Women who are over-represented in the informal sector; sex workers, market vendors, hawkers, caterers etc., most of whom live hand to mouth and are the only breadwinners of their families have lost their only sources of income because they have been forced to stop working indefinitely.
Workers whose industries have been affected by the economic implications of COVID-19 for example women in the horticultural sector are being laid off with no options and will have difficulty sustaining their families during this time.
According to the Ugandan Police spokesperson Fred Enanga, there has been a spike in cases of domestic violence since the lock-down was instituted. Due to the isolation regulations being enforced, women are forced to stay in homes with abusive partners and are at risk of being severely harmed or even killed. In these situations, women cannot seek recourse with the authorities or seek shelter elsewhere because they are not allowed to move.
These are just some of the ways in which women are being affected by this pandemic.
Governments and policymakers must consider the gendered implications of the novel corona virus in order to ensure that everyone gets the help they most need. It is only through such an analysis that adequate responses can be implemented.
If you are interested in further understanding the gendered implications of COVID19, please see below a list of resources:
COVID-19: The gendered impacts of the outbreak.
How to stop Coronavirus Lockdown Leading to an Upsurge in Violence Against Women.
The Coronavirus Is a Disaster for Feminism.
Why gender matters in the impact and recovery from Covid-19.
‘Gender blind’ coronavirus policies could hinder disease fight
COVID-19’s Gender Implications Examined in Policy Brief from CARE.
Playing the Long Game: How a Gender Lens Can Mitigate Harm Caused by Pandemics
The COVID-19 Outbreak and Gender: Key Advocacy Points from Asia and the Paciﬁc
A Feminist Reading List on Care, Crisis and Pandemics
Safeguarding women’s rights during the Covid-19 shutdown
French Government to House Domestic Abuse Victims in Hotels as Cases Rise During Coronavirus Lockdown
Opinion: how to advocate effectively in the age of covid-19
What Does Feminist Leadership Look Like in a Pandemic?