In the current context of the coronavirus pandemic, women and girls are the most affected. UN Women lists, in a recent report, the 5 challenges that particularly affect or will affect women during this time of the covid-19 crisis.
Increased exposure to infection
As part of the response to the pandemic, women play a disproportionate role, as health professionals, volunteers, doctors, caregivers at home. This exposes them more to covid-19. In Morocco, according to the High Commissionner for the plan (HCP), women constitute 57% of medical staff, 66% of paramedical staff and 64% of social workers. Moreover, in cases of overloaded health systems, they are the ones in charge of home care to a large extent. Therefore, they are more likely to be infected.
Women are harshly hit by unemployment
As was the case with ebola, the covid 19 crisis will affect women more economically, UN Women warns. They will be the most affected by job losses, as movement restrictions prevent them from earning a living and meeting the needs of their families. This economic insecurity will also be aggravated among women, since they are the most unemployed population (33% of unemployment among women vs. 18% among men in Morocco). Knowing that in Morocco, the participation of women in economic life is one of the lowest in the world (22% against 48% of the world average).
More domestic work for women
With lockdown and quarantine measures linked to the pandemic, the burden of domestic and family responsibilities is increasingly high and rests mainly on women. With the closure of schools and the presence of children at home, women must, in addition to taking on household chores, monitor the schooling of children at home.
Increase in gender-based violence
In times of crisis like covid 19, and as was the case with ebola and zika, domestic violence and sexual exploitation tend to increase. Social isolation and lockdown worsen the living conditions of women who are already living in situations of domestic violence. However, this violence is not receiving the necessary attention in the context of the fight against the pandemic. In China, the first data on the covid 19 show that the number of cases of violence reported to the local police increased threefold in February 2020.
Less access to maternal and reproductive health care
When health systems are overwhelmed, essential services for women, including pre- and post-natal health care and contraceptives… suffer. The resources that women need, especially those who are pregnant, are used to manage the crisis. This leads to the increase of maternal mortality rates, as was the case in ebola crisis.
In the face of these existing inequalities, UN Women calls on the world community, to “take radical measures to correct these long-standing inequalities” and to make a conscious effort to put women in the forefront.