Five Actions for Gender Equality in the COVID-19 Response
UNICEF has listed down five actions at the programmatic and advocacy levels to ensure the prioritisation of Gender Equality in the COVID-19 response. It covers the following points which are in line with public health, social and economic consequences of this pandemic:
1.Care for Caregivers
We know that women are at the forefront of all public health crises as nurses, midwives, community health workers, yet their role is frequently overlooked and underpaid. Women and girls also tend to carry out most of the care for sick relatives, household chores and childcare responsibilities. Women and children, especially in female-headed households, as migrant workers or recipients of remittances, will also be incredibly vulnerable to the impacts.
Together, we must provide adequate support, including childcare, health services and other social support and protections for vital frontline responders. Cash transfer programmes for women and girls need to be prioritized, to mitigate the impact of the outbreak, recover and build resilience for future shocks. With our private and public sector partners, it is vital that we also champion family-friendly policies to protect employees, reduce stress, and support improved child and family well-being.
2. Prepare for increases in Gender-based violence (GBV) in the COVID-19 outbreak
GBV will increase during the COVID-19 response, and we can be prepared by training first responders on how to handle disclosure of GBV (our GBV Pocket Guide including an app, can help), including the unique approaches for and with adolescent girls. We will also prepare all levels of health care facilities and health workers, especially at the community level, to take on the task shifting responsibilities related to the caseload of GBV survivors. Information about available GBV hotlines and other support mechanisms must be made available across all settings.
3. Maintain core health and education services and systems
Evidence from past epidemics, including Ebola and Zika, indicate that efforts to contain outbreaks often interrupt education services and divert resources from routine health services including maternal and child health care services and the clinical management of rape. Women, adolescent girls, and all children living with HIV/AIDS are particularly vulnerable as their continuity of care can be acutely compromised, potentially increasing morbidity, mortality and transmission of HIV.
Together, we must ensure the continuity of core and quality education and health services – including alternative delivery structures – while also maintaining our long term support for strong education and health systems to meet the holistic needs of women, and girls and boys across the age continuum.
4. Engage existing women’s and youth rights networks to support connectivity and vital information flow
As schools transition to remote learning, the important social support structures – peers and mentors – for adolescent girls must be maintained. Through in-person and digital platforms, these key social and community networks should also be engaged to ensure the meaningful participation of girls and women in all decision-making processes and sharing of key communications, including GBV hotlines and other services and support mechanisms. Our digital platforms, such as U-report, can be one tool to provide dialogue toward joint solutions and insights. We need to activate standby and existing partnerships with these networks to achieve quality and scale of our programme reach.
5. Ensure gender data are available, analyzed and actionable
If we don’t ask, we will not know, and we will not do. Nothing we do is neutral. Sex, age and disability data disaggregation, as well as other key indicators, must be prioritized in all data collection, analyses and reporting. This includes surveys that analyze across the COVID-19 impact curve of public health, social and economic outcomes.
Download the report in English and in Bangla.