Women bear the brunt of the social and economic impacts of Covid – Red Cross | Global development


The social and economic burden of Covid has fallen disproportionately on women around the world, the Red Cross has warned, in a harsh analysis of the impact of the pandemic.

Women have been particularly affected by loss of income and education, increase in domestic violence, child marriage and trafficking, and the responsibility to care for sick children and parents, according to full report report published Monday by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

“In a crisis, it is always women who pay the highest price”: Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC. Photography: FICR

“In a crisis, it is always women who pay the highest price,” said Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC. “We’ve been talking about this for too long … it’s urgent.”

It was vital that the uneven socio-economic impact of Covid was factored into stimulus plans and could indicate how the world is tackling other crises, including the climate emergency, said co-author Teresa Gonçalves. “We can recover even better,” she said.

The investigation examines how the pandemic collided with existing factors including poverty, migration, conflict and extreme weather conditions, bringing together detailed anecdotal reports from 38 national Red Cross societies with data from the World Bank and UN.

Of the 38 participating countries, 31 identified women as disproportionately affected. The urban poor, migrants and refugees were also identified as particularly at-risk groups.

Although overall absolute job losses are higher for men due to their higher overall labor market participation, relative job loss was higher for women. Along with young people and migrants, women are over-represented in casual work and dominate sectors severely affected by the pandemic, such as retail, domestic work and tourism.

The report highlights several countries severely affected by the tourism death knell, including Spain, the Philippines and Jamaica.

In Jamaica, as in many parts of the world, women make up a large part of the population living indirectly from tourists. Street vendors have been hit hard, for example, said Kevin Douglas of the Jamaican Red Cross, especially in craft markets and in small villages dependent on a flow of visitors, like Middle Quarters, where women normally line the streets competing to sell peppery shrimp. .

Radhika Fernando, of the Philippine Red Cross, described a “broken” tourism industry: “We don’t get anyone here.

Women in the Philippines were to take greater responsibility for caring for children and loved ones, she said, as well as home schooling responsibilities throughout what is considered the longest shutdown. Covid school in the world.

Women wash clothes at their homes in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 2020.
Women wash clothes at their homes in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, in August 2020. The country expects a baby boom in 2021 due to lack of access to contraceptives during the pandemic. Photograph: Rolex dela Peña / EPA

This trend has been echoed throughout the report, in rich and poor countries alike. In Spain, for example, where among those with access to Red Cross services, 18% of women had lost their jobs compared to 14% of men, women also carried out most of the unpaid work at home. José Sánchez Espinosa, of the Spanish Red Cross, said: “We are working to change attitudes. We have tried to convince men that they should share the burden of looking after families.

Almost all of the Red Cross Societies surveyed, including Spain, reported an increased demand for mental health support, with women often being disproportionately represented.

Migrants, refugees and internally displaced people have been particularly affected by the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, according to the report, intersecting with the challenges facing women.

In Colombia, nearly 50% of the 1.8 million people who fled Venezuela are women and girls, who are “doubly vulnerable,” said Diana Cruz, migration manager for the Colombian Red Cross. Slums, which are home to large numbers of displaced Colombian and Venezuelan migrants, in Bogotá and elsewhere faced waves of evictions in police raids last summer, Cruz said. “It’s very hard when you hear mothers say to you, ‘We have lost the roof over our heads. I am alone in the street with my daughter. They fear rape or sexual abuse. It happened in the midst of the pandemic, ”she said.

Closures around the world have led to an increase in domestic violence. In Colombia, the Red Cross supported 73,000 victims of domestic violence in 2020, an increase of over 40% from the previous year, although the number of cases is likely to be much higher, especially among undocumented migrants discouraged from reporting for fear of deportation.

Migrants and refugee women also suffered unique challenges in Lebanon, made worse by the economic emergency. “There has been an increase in child marriage as an outcome, especially in refugee families who have no security,” said Rana Sidani Cassou, communications manager for the IFRC in the Middle East and Africa. North.

In Afghanistan, the Afghan Red Crescent Society (ARCS) responded to a rapidly changing situation, with the pandemic coinciding with the Taliban’s rapid takeover this summer and now one of the world’s biggest food crises as half of the population faces hunger. Dr Mohammad Nabi Burhan, acting secretary general of Les Arcs, said: “Since the start of the pandemic… so many people who were earning a daily wage, working on the streets of cities, have lost their jobs. The impact has been enormous on the general population, and women are increasingly vulnerable. »Rcs

Displaced Afghans wait for food aid in Kabul, October 2021
Displaced Afghans await food aid in Kabul in October 2021. Many effects of the pandemic have been compounded by the Taliban takeover. Photograph: EPA

School closures have turned into an uncertain situation under the new government. “I very much hope that schools for girls will start, because they need to be educated,” Nabi said.

Kenya was an example of a country where Covid had collided with the climate crisis and poverty, particularly to the detriment of women and girls. Dr Asha Mohammed, general secretary of the Kenya Red Cross Society, said she was “shocked” by the impact of school closings on girls, with increased teenage pregnancies and child marriages .

With the drought in the north, some families in rural areas have resorted to marrying their daughters in exchange for livestock, she said. “It looks like a zero-sum game. You make an effort in one area to get the girls back to school after the Covid shutdowns, and then there’s another disaster. “

Mohammed has just returned from Cop26 in Glasgow, where she advocated for lessons to be learned from Covid. “The only difference we’ll make is if we have interventions that clearly target women and girls. If we don’t make them resilient to these disasters, it won’t help.

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