One of the most at-risk communities in this global pandemic we’re are all experiencing are women and girls. Melinda Tankard Reist is a colleague and friend, and I have worked alongside her on various advocacy campaigns with Micah Australia and engagement with Government.
Melinda highlights the unique risks facing women and girls and the ongoing effects of the pandemic on this particular community.
The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has brought to the fore the differential impact of global disasters on women. It has also exacerbated the pre-existing vulnerabilities of women and girls.
Economic disparities have worsened for already vulnerable women.
Most women work in low-paid positions, with 740 million women working in the informal economy (the worst hit by the fallout) or in agriculture jobs with few protections. As the crisis worsens across the Global South, millions will have no work, and poverty will worsen.
A new study by CARE International ‘COVID could condemn women to decades of poverty: Implications of COVID-19 on Women’s Economic Justice and Rights’, highlights the impact on women in the developing world, for example the 45 million women in the garment industry, who face the loss of their sole income; while nearly 44 million female domestic workers across the world, and the tens of millions of poor rural women reliant on farming, can no longer access fields and livelihoods.
Mareen Buschmann, CARE International UK’s policy specialist on Women’s Economic Empowerment, says; “the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and financial impact are deeply gendered. Women and girls are disproportionately impacted – they bear a higher infection risk given they make up over 70% of the global health workforce, and they face higher rates of insecurity as they tend to work in informal jobs with little legal and social protection, so will be hit first and hardest by an economic downturn.”
1. Economic downturns particularly affect women and girls. Many are employed in the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic—including domestic work, entertainment, retail, smallholder farming, tourism, and travel—as well as in the informal economy and as migrant workers.
2. Women’s and girls’ economic opportunities are diminished. As unpaid care burdens are increasing, livelihood opportunities are decreasing, and women entrepreneurs may find it difficult to rebuild their livelihoods.
3. Women are less likely to benefit from recovery and stabilisation measures, as gender and social norms prohibit access to economic opportunities and financial resources.
4. Women’s and girls’ access to financial services is decreasing. An economic downturn will especially affect women’s financial inclusion, including access to loans and savings mechanisms.
5. The UN has referred to domestic violence as a ‘shadow pandemic‘. Women and girls are more exposed to domestic violence while quarantined with their abusers. Financial and social stressors, restrictions on movement and unemployment are contributing to more risk. “Many of these women are now trapped at home with their abusers and are at increased risk of other forms of violence as overloaded healthcare systems and disrupted justice services struggle to respond,” says the UN.
6. The pandemic’s economic impacts are likely to increase sexual exploitation and child marriage, leaving women and girls in fragile economies and refugee contexts particularly vulnerable.
7. Women and girls are at greater risk of falling victim to the global sex industry, to predation of sex buyers and pimps, as well as selling themselves on-line, and at greater risk of virtual abuse.
8. A Unicef joint reportwith Plan International and UN Women titled ‘A new era for girls: Taking stock on 25 years of progress for girls’ states: “Progress for adolescent girls specifically has not kept pace with the realities they face today, and COVID-19 has reinforced many of these gaps”
These sobering facts demonstrate why we must #EndCOVIDforall – including the most marginalised women and girls in the developing world.
Melinda Tankard Reist
Melinda Tankard Reist is an author, speaker, media commentator and campaigner. Co-Founder and Movement Director of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation, she is best known for her work addressing sexualisation, objectification, harms of pornography, sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence against women. She is also a supporter of Micah Challenge and the #EndCovidforall campaign.
The global pandemic has impacted every part of our world and has exposed the most severely vulnerable and lacking areas of society. This presents us with the unique opportunity to seek to do better in terms of aiding, supporting, challenging, and changing in order to come out better and stronger from this. The awareness of these sobering facts and statistics is vital in order to be carriers of change and care in a world that needs it most.
We can already see what a positive impact this campaign is having with great news coming out that government has pledged a $60 million package to help South East Asia’s COVID-19 response! This package includes funds specifically allocated to research on the particular needs of women and girls during the recovery along with the help needed for resources and equipment. This is a major win as the importance of this issue is highlighted.
As the Church, we can continue to lend support to the great efforts of the #EndCOVIDForAll campaign which seeks to elevate and champion these important causes and people. Through pledging and becoming more aware we can make a tremendous impact, because it’s not over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.
WHAT WE CAN DO:
- Sign the Pledge: Click here Our Government needs to know that Australian’s are supportive of our nation providing aid, ongoing health and educational campaigns and helping kickstart economic recovery in vulnerable countries.
- Pray & share this link and these stories. The more support this campaign gets – the stronger the message to our leaders!!
- Stay connected to all that’s happening through the #EndCovidForAll campaign! Leading Epidemiologist’s, professors, leading Universities, Medical Associations and Advocacy bodies are all on board.
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