One week after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the effects that the virus was having on women were already noticeable across the world. Researchers have been investigating the effects of the epidemic on women (source: University of Melbourne). Women make up 70% of the world’s health and social care workers and do three times as much unpaid work at home as men (source: UN Women) As health professionals, as primary caregivers at home and as dedicated volunteers, women are at an increased risk of becoming infected with the virus. Without the tireless efforts of an incredible number of women, it is impossible to combat diseases such as COVID-19.
Out of reach of state aid
“The state of emergency limits the income of the most vulnerable people. This hits farmers and indigenous women particularly hard. In addition, these population groups receive hardly any support from state aid and health services,” says Oscar Quillupangui, co-head of the office in Ecuador.
Women fighting on every front
The risk of domestic violence tends to increase when households are overwhelmed. Self-isolation and quarantine measures exacerbate this situation even more. Reports from some affected communities show that COVID-19 is likely to have similar effects now (sources: Axios; TAZ; Time).
Restrictions such as curfews make it particularly difficult for women to earn a living and meet the basic needs of their families. This correlation has been noted in past crises.
It is clear that SWISSAID’s work in the area of gender equality and especially in those of domestic violence, co-responsibility and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) will be of great importance not only during the crisis but also in the post-crisis period. Supporting the people on the ground to overcome the crisis and get back on their feet is just the beginning.
Domestic violence is to be feared
“The situation of single women, female heads of families and women dependent on daily wages has deteriorated significantly. And if the measures put in place because of the corona virus continue for a long time, it will become even more precarious. Domestic violence is likely to increase and in this particular situation it will probably take many new forms,” reports Sneha Giridhari, SWISSAID’s gender expert in India.
Cultures that can't wait
“In Guinea-Bissau, the women are in the middle of the vegetable-growing season. The vegetables are being harvested, but sales in the outlying areas are low and the markets are closed,” says Aissé Barry, SWISSAID’s gender expert in Guinea-Bissa.