Gender and social inequalities that underpinned societies in Asia and the Pacific before the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic are now exacerbated, making bad situations for women and girls even worse, warns a new report by UN Women.
Female healthcare worker on the frontline of the COVID-19 response at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute in Nonthaburi, Thailand. (Photo by Pathumporn Thongking/UN Women)
The report entitled The First 100 Days of the COVID-19 Outbreak in Asia and the Pacific: A Gender Lens, presents a snapshot of the gender dimensions of the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and captures promising practices for integrating gender in preparedness and response planning while proposing potential and entry points to mitigate the socio-economic impacts for women and girls in the region.
The publication highlights the immediate needs of women in the context of the pandemic, including those of female health-care workers and survivors of gender-based violence, as well as direct impacts related to women and girls' unpaid care work, sexual and reproductive health and rights, interrupted access to education and unequal access to information.
"Asia and the Pacific continues to be the region most prone to natural disasters in the world. The gendered impacts of additional disasters within the context of COVID-19 can be anticipated: A Mekong drought, for example, combined with the increased need for hygiene practices such as handwashing in the context of the pandemic, will likely result in significant increases to the unpaid care work burden of women, who are primarily responsible for collection of water for household use" says Mohammad Naciri, UN Women Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
"Response and recovery efforts must place the needs of women and girls at the centre and be grounded in the socio-economic realities that they face," he added.
The '100 Days' gender report discusses the impacts and the potential way forward on issues including women, peace and security, gender and disaster risk reduction, ending violence against women and women's economic empowerment, while stressing the specific needs of marginalized and underserved groups, including refugees, women with disabilities, LGBTQI persons and women living with HIV.
The report also brings to light that a gender lens on this crisis enables us to leverage existing work and expertise - from rebuilding in disasters to rebuilding peace - to ensure that the world post-COVID is built on principles of human rights and gender equality.
UN Women is the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, the organization was established in 2010 to accelerate progress on women's rights worldwide. UN Women's efforts are based on the fundamental belief that every woman has the right to live a life free from violence, poverty, and discrimination, and that gender equality is a prerequisite to achieving global development.