One week after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19 has declared a pandemic, the effects of the virus on women are already across the world noticeable. Researchers are 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 perform three times as much unpaid work at home as men (source: UN Women) As health professionals, primary caregivers at home and dedicated volunteers, women are at 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.
Away from state aid
“The state of emergency limits the income of the most vulnerable people This hits farmers and indigenous women particularly hard. In addition, state aid and health services hardly reach these population groups,” says Oscar Quillupangui, co-head of the office in Ecuador.
Women on all fronts
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 currently having similar effects (sources: Axios; TAZ; Time).
Restrictions, such as curfews, are likely to prevent women from earning a living and meeting the basic needs of their families. This link has been observed in past crises.
It is clear that SWISSAID’s work in the area of gender equality and especially in the areas of domestic violence, co-responsibility and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) will be of great importance not only during 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 caused by the corona virus continue for a long time to come, 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, sales in the outlying areas are low and the markets are closed”, says Aissé Barry, SWISSAID’s gender expert Guinea-Bissau