We need a feminist response to this pandemic
13th May 2020
By Lina Abirafeh, SheDecides Guiiding Group Member
This article was originally featured in Devex. Read the full article here.
As governments around the world begin to implement COVID-19 lockdown exit plans, the world is slowly growing accustomed to our new reality under the pandemic. Everyone is at risk, but those who are marginalized — women and girls, the elderly, people with disabilities, people without insurance, people with compromised immune systems, and refugee populations — face even greater challenges.
We might imagine the virus to be akin to the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, or 2005 Hurricane Katrina, affecting women and men equally. And yet, more women than men died as a result of the tsunami due to cultural restrictions placing them at home with children, social mores that prevented many women from ever learning to swim, and traditional clothing that encumbered movement.
I have spent my career as a humanitarian aid worker in insecure environments, supporting women to mitigate the risks they face in those settings — notably as a result of a more hidden global pandemic, violence against women. Everywhere I have worked — from Afghanistan to Mali to Haiti — women and girls suffer more. It does not matter whether this is due to a conflict, a natural disaster, or an epidemic.
For example, women in Ebola-affected countries were more vulnerable to the infection, and more greatly infected. Women did not have access to information that may have helped protect them from infection, and they were hardly engaged in the response.
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