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World: Gender Alert for COVID-19 Outbreak: March 2020

Country: World Sources: Inter-Agency Standing Committee, UN Women TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE SPECIFIC NEEDS OF WOMEN, GIRLS, MEN AND BOYS MAKES HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE MORE EFFECTIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE TO ALL AFFECTED POPULATIONS. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a pandemic. Particular concern, in humanitarian terms, must be for populations in high-risk settings, such as camps, poor high-density population areas and contexts with weak health care service provision, WASH facilities, and social protection settings.
Recognizing the extent to which the COVID-19 outbreaks affects women and men differently is hugely important.
Some preliminary data suggested that more men than women are dying, potentially due to sex-based immunological differences, higher rates of cardiovascular disease for men and lifestyle choices, such as smoking. However, the experiences and lessons learned from the Zika and Ebola outbreaks and the HIV pandemic demonstrate that robust gender analysis and informed, gender-integrated response are vital to strengthen the access and acceptability of the humanitarian services needed to meet the distinct needs of women and girls, as well as men and boys.
Gender norms and pre-existing inequalities disproportionately impact women and girls in emergencies, including health emergencies. Gender, together with other factors including age, sexual orientation and identity, ethnicity, disability, education, employment, and geographical location may intersect to further compound individual experiences in emergencies. In the COVID-19 health emergency, a number of gendered impacts have emerged, including: Women are more likely to be front-line health workers (globally, 70% of workers in the health sector are women2 ) or health facility service-staff (e.g. cleaners, laundry) and as such they are more likely to be exposed to the virus and dealing with enormous stress balancing paid and unpaid work roles. Women may have limited access to accurate, official information and public service announcements, due to limited access to public spaces, and group gatherings (e.g. through safe spaces) and outreach activities. This can contribute to increased risk of infection, as well as increased stress and protection risks. In most locations, norms dictate that women and girls are the main caretakers of the household. This can mean giving up work to care for children out of school and/or sick household members, impacting their levels of income and heightening exposure to the virus. Women are also more likely to be engaged in short-term, part-time and other precarious employments/ contracts which offer poorer social insurance, pension, and health insurance schemes, and are particularly at risk in an economic downturn. This can lead to women engaging in risky coping strategies, such as transactional sex and/or heighten their exposure to risks of sexual exploitation and abuse. Overwhelmed health services, reduced mobility and diverted funding will likely hamper women and girl s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, GBV survivor care, HIV/AIDS treatment and attended childbirth and other natal services, exacerbating preventable maternal deaths, 507 of which occur every day from complications of pregnancy and childbirth in emergencies.


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