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Shimelis Tsegaye Tesemma
Throughout history, women and girls have been affected negatively and at a disproportionately higher rate by the outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics, and COVID-19 hasn’t been an exception. Existing social and cultural norms and practices that underlie structures of systemic gender discrimination and marginalisation glaringly manifest themselves. Otherwise hidden and suppressed attitudes and practices are laid bare as communities and institutions resort to instincts to control and survive within emergency situations. In Africa, an intersection of factors leaves girls and adolescents at greater risk of marginalisation, discrimination and neglect. Gender and social norms have traditionally placed girls at a greater disadvantage than other segments of the population. Pandemics, like other crises, often result in the breakdown of social infrastructure and services, leading to health, transport, food, sanitation, legal, security and other governance structures being temporarily contracted or becoming dysfunctional. This may result in increased exposure of women and children to human rights abuses, including exposure to gender-based violence.
Joht Singh Chandan; Julie Taylor; Caroline Bradbury-Jones (et al.)
Tal Rafaeli; Geraldine Hutchinson
Fatouma Zara Laouan
Women and men, girls and boys, urban and rural populations in West Africa are being impacted by the
COVID-19 pandemic. Immediate impacts at the time of this research center around reduced income and
access to basic needs due to government lockdowns, changing gender roles in households, and increased
gender-based violence. The COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa is currently exacerbating socio-economic
issues, with women bearing the largest burden of caring for their families while also seeking to lead
communities in prevention and adaptation. Gender-based inequality is extensive in the region.
Women are at a higher risk for exposure to infection
due to the fact that they are often the primary caregivers
in the family and constitute most of frontline healthcare
responders. Women and girls are at increased risk of violence
during the COVID-19 period. Further, women are more likely to lose income as many
are in the informal sector.
Gender-based violence (GBV) increases during every type of emergency – whether economic crises, conflict or disease outbreaks. Pre-existing toxic social norms and gender inequalities, economic and social stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with restricted movement and social isolation measures, have led to an exponential increase in GBV. Many women and girls are in ‘lockdown’ at home with their abusers while being cut off from normal support services.This briefing note provides concrete actions and strategies that UNDP, UN agencies and other development partners can take to prevent and address GBV in the context of COVID-19. It includes recommendations for adapting dedicated GBV services and support to the crisis context, and for mainstreaming GBV prevention and response in 'non-GBV specific' interventions.
UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.
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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response