CORONAVIRUS- How the Pandemic is Deepening Gender Inequality

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On the surface, COVID-19 epidemic seem to be affecting everyone on an equal level. From in depth observations and facts however, the story is different.

Although men appear to account for more coronavirus deaths than women, women are still the worst hit of the outbreak. The experiences and impact of the pandemic is much more harsh on women due to pre-existing gender issues and conditions in the society.

The pandemic is exposing the pre-existing gender inequality, paving ways for a deeper gap and gradually revoking the pursuit for an equal society in these different ways:

Related: CORONAVIRUS- Domestic Violence on the Rise as Lockdown Orders Extend

Strain in healthcare for women

COVID-19 is itself a health pandemic causing more harm to the general health sector. The pandemic has affected the world so much that the health sector has rightly focused on it and drifted its attention away from other equally important health issues.

As the health sector continues to oversight other important health aspect due to the pandemic, women are becoming severely affected.

Already, the provision of contraceptives, menstrual aids, anti-natal and post-natal care are beginning to lessen. UNFPA estimates that 18 million women will be unable to access contraceptives due to the pandemic.

Related: Why rape cases may increase during pandemic

There are also reduced resources for delivery as pregnant women begin to consider at-home births. If this continues, maternal and infant mortality may soon become a worry.

Furthermore, 70% of global healthcare and social service workers are women. This poses more risk to female health workers. Despite such exposure to the virus, women are less represented in the global discussions and decision making regarding COVID-19.

Women are less capable to manage an economic downturn…

One of the major fears of the pandemic is the global economic stability even after recovery. The pandemic has undoubtedly affected the economic sector as local and global markets have been disrupted. Businesses are also forced to lay off workers.

The economic impact would be felt differently between men and women. Generally even before the pandemic, women have always been at a disadvantage in the economic sector which makes them less capable than men to manage an economic breakdown.

So far, nearly 60% of people who have lost their jobs to COVID-19 are women according to Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Women earn lesser, save or invest lesser and mostly secure informal jobs which are likely the first to lay off workers in any pandemic.

Related: CORONAVIRUS: Unexpected pregnancies may rise to millions due to pandemic

Domestic violence on the rise

Domestic violence is increasing along side COVID-19. UN reports that in this period of lockdown, hotlines in some countries have recorded 30 percent increase in calls from victims of domestic violence.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, domestic violence has been a major concern. Globally, 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Related: CORONAVIRUS- Domestic Violence on the Rise as Lockdown Orders Extend

As a result of the lockdown, both abusers and victims are forced to spend more time together. Victims are unable to call for help or go out and abusers have seized the opportunity to perpetrate.

In terms of help, organizations and support services are also restricted due to lockdown and social distance orders. Some have also changed responsibilities and attention to the pandemic.

Related: Sudan Illegalizes FGM

So what now…

As the world responds to this scourge, the pursuit for an equal society should not be revoked. Although the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak is greatly felt by everyone, it is without doubt worse for women and girls.

In spite of their vulnerability prior to the pandemic, women and girls must be highly considered in the fight for a world free from coronavirus.

Discussions, decision making and other actions should incorporate the opinions, participation and perspective of women and girls such that the world would recover to a more equal society.

As the United Nations expresses “women will be the hardest hit by this pandemic but they will also be the backbone of recovery in communities”.

Related: CORONAVIRUS- Women Lose more Jobs during Pandemic

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