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This article illustrates some of the limitations of the statistics that have been widely publicized in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, provides additional contextual information to better understand the risks women and girls are facing, and outlines some priority recommendations to Governments, policy makers, donors and key humanitarian and development actors for addressing gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.
Nicola Jones; Agnieszka Małachowska; Silvia Guglielmi (et al.)
Unlike the H1N1 influenza virus, to which younger people were relatively more susceptible, and Ebola, where adolescents were at greater risk than younger children but at lower risk than the most-affected age group (35–44 years), the demographic burden of covid-19 is highly skewed towards older persons aged 70 and over. Age-disaggregated statistics suggest that adolescents are least likely to be hospitalised and to die from covid-19. Young people have typically been portrayed in the mainstream media as ‘part of the problem’ – as both vectors of the disease and as reluctant to adopt preventive measures, rather than as key actors to be proactively included in the emergency and recovery responses. As the spike in unemployment and predictions of global recession underline, Covid-19 is not only an unprecedented health crisis but also a profound economic and social one. This is the first in a series of briefs. It focuses on the short-term effects of covid-19 and associated lockdowns on adolescent girls and boys in LMICs. The next brief will focus on the effects of the pandemic six months after lockdowns.
As countries across Africa experience the impact of COVID-19 across health systems, economies and communities, progress made in the last decade in achieving the rights of adolescent girls’ risks being lost. African governments must act in urgency to address this “invisible crisis" and protect the important gains made to protect, and empower girls over the last decade.COVID-19, an unfolding global health crisis, is revealing a grim impact on millions of adolescent girls across Africa. Along with rising infection rates across countries in the continent, the disease is compounding challenges to girls’ agency, protection, learning and leadership. The African response to the pandemic will – if unchecked - roll back important gains made in ensuring African girls’ access and enjoyment of human rights. COVID-19 is emerging as not only a health crisis but a significant protection crisis for adolescent girls across the continent.
The COVID-19 pandemic may cause 13 million additional child marriages by 2030, and West and Central Africa will be severely affected unless multi-sectoral, comprehensive efforts to end child marriage are accelerated in the region. This joint brief from Girls Not Brides and Plan International outlines the impacts of the pandemic on child marriage. It provides recommendations and an urgent call for action for governments, regional bodies and humanitarian actors to ensure that girls and young women's rights are upheld during and after the COVID-19 crisis response.
Sharon Goulds; Isobel Fergus; Esther Winslow
As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread worldwide it is becoming clear that the outbreak of this virus has implications that reach far beyond the direct impact on people’s physical health. What started as a health emergency is causing fundamental shifts in society as governments struggle to try and contain the crisis. COVID-19 is having an impact on all sectors of society across the world. But its impact does not fall equally: the virus is taking advantage of pre-existing inequalities. As the world has sought desperately to deal both with the medical impacts of the virus and to prepare a response to its many secondary effects, research on COVID-19 has accelerated. However, there is limited research on the social impacts of COVID-19 and on the consequences for young people, especially those specific to girls. Plan International commissioned research to look specifically at the impact of the current pandemic on girls and young women, collecting data from over 7,000 girls across 14 countries. The report also includes extracts from interviews with young women, reflecting on the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives in Mozambique, Brazil, Ghana and Nicaragua. The scale of this pandemic affects girls and young women in all aspects of their daily lives: their safety, wellbeing, education, economic security, health, nutrition and access to technology. All pre-existing inequalities are made worse by COVID-19. Its impact on girls and young women, who face unique vulnerabilities, needs to be acknowledged and it is their experiences and perspectives this research seeks to understand.
Jena Derakhshani Hamadani; Mohammed Imrul Hasan; Andrew J. Baldi
Governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have had devastating effects on women and girls. Gender-Based Violence is a problem of human-rights, public health and development. It is also a problem that has had devastating effects for women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. This real-time emergent learning brief has been prepared for UNICEF Country Offices and Practitioners as they respond to gender-based violence during the pandemic. Drawing on evidence from UNICEF country experiences, the brief identifies emerging risks related to gender-based violence; highlights programme responses and adaptations; and outlines key points for programming, advocacy and systems change.
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.
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