COVID-19 has created a global crisis. Most governments have closed their borders, limited mobility and advised or even forced their citizens to stay at home. While much media coverage is primarily talking about numbers, infection rates and death tolls, it often ignores the gender complexity of Corona and political measurements.
Girls and women are profoundly impacted by humanitarian crises as this study shows. Corona therefore exacerbates inequalities, disrupts access to essential services and exposes girls and women to new risks and vulnerabilities. That’s why governments need to create an urgent response with a gender-based approach and already plan the recovery stage.
Areas, in which women see themselves undermined are vast: health care & sexual reproductive rights, carer roles, domestic violence, food security and sanitation.
So let’s try to offer a sensitive response.
1. Ensure sexual & reproductive health and rights
Sex doesn’t stop. And neither do (un-)wanted pregnancies.
The pandemic has increased the barriers to access contraception and abortion services. Borders are closed and lockdowns are coming and going. This has led to a lack of supplies and to a shutdown of medical centers.
While not all governments can react to the lack of supplies, they certainly can change their policies during the crisis and recognize sexual health and reproductive rights as essential services, that no pandemic should stop.
This is a very safe and simple measure that will dramatically improve women’s access to care at this time of national crisis. We’re really pleased that the government has acted on this. It will make a huge difference to women’s health and well-being in the current climate.Claire Murphy, the director of external affairs at British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), in the Guardian
For example, the UK has changed its abortion law to protect women and health care providers. Now, women and girls who need an abortion can do so at home. It’s the legalization of telemedicine. The law is only active during the crises and protects the rights of thousands of women.
2. Care for the carers
Health care providers belong undoubtedly to the most affected of the Corona crisis. Women constitute 70% of the worlds workers in health and the social sector. However, women are not just taking the responsibility to take care of others in their jobs, they provide most of the everyday care within families. When schools are closing, women are being held off their work, which means less economic opportunities and exacerbated burdens of unpaid care work during the quarantines.
Governments should offer economic support to women who cannot work because they need to take care of someone during Corona. Women should be granted access to essential healthcare, such as personal protective equipment, including menstrual hygienic products, mental care and enough rest.
3. Grant access to food, water, energy and sanitation
World Health Organization advise to wash the hands frequently to prevent the spread of the COVID19. Girls and women around the world spend 200 million hours a day gathering water. In 8 out of 10 homes without running water, according to UNICEF. That means during the lockdown we have in the world many homes without basic access to water and without the possibility to follow the minimum requirements to self-care during the crisis. Also, it can mean that we have millions of women spend hours every day lugging heavy containers over rough and lonely terrain, being exposed to violence and to get infect by the coronavirus.
The water situation is just one example of the sources that women gather to take care of the needs of their families. In this list, we can talk about food, energy or sanitation products. For an effective and responsible response from the governments to the crises. They should provide with food, water, energy and sanitation products to these homes where they can not have easy access. This is specially important, for these homes that are keep by a single women. Who are more vulnerable to violence in the situation of lockdown where cities are alone or they kids are home and they have to be with them.
4. Protect in case of domestic violence
Domestic violence during quarantine has been one of the main headlines in different newspapers around the world. It’s a big issue that asks for an urgent governmental response. The World Health Organization recommends that all healthcare providers should be able to recognize signs of violence and be trained to provide women-centred care. This includes focussing on empathetic listening, non-judgmental response, identifying women’s needs and concerns and facilitating their access to social support.
1 in 3 women around the world experience physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. This makes it the most widespread, but among the least reported human rights abuses. It is prevalent during times of peace and stability, but risks escalate when a crisis strikes.
Also, it’s important to make reports to the police as easy as possible. Women should be able to denounce from home and get an immediate response from professionals trained in attending cases of gender violence. In Brazil, for instance, women can – during the COVID-19 crisis – denounce domestic violence by WhatsApp.
5. Prepare the recovery stage through the gender lens
The international community can and must do better to provide security, health, rights, and well-being of girls and women during the crisis. a part of this job is to plan ahead how they will support women and girls during the recovery face.
This work must be base on of sex- and age- disaggregated data, as well as robust process and impact evaluations on what is working to accelerate the recovery for girls, their male peers, families and communities. It’s important to take all the spheres where women have been most affected and work on the structural base of these violences in other to overcome these challenges.
This response have to ensure the participation of women and girls. They must contribute to strategic planning and decision-making that affects their lives. And, all the projects have to consider strategies, policies, and trainings to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse within the humanitarian aid sector, including building up and from a zero-tolerance approach to perpetrators.
Also, it is important to explore the leadership roles of girls and women, support capacity building and involve men and boys in the discussions of gender roles and hierarchies. Talk about gender power imbalances, actively work to transform patriarchal structures, and promote girls’ leadership.
The COVID19 has created a crisis global wild and have given to governments the opportunity to look forward the structural inequalities.
In times of crisis, cases of rape can increase. Source!