Covid-19 is causing devastating effects globally, but women and girls are experiencing the impacts at a much greater scale.
Here's are some of the ways girls and women are most affected by the devastating impacts of a pandemic:
1. Women make up a majority of health care workers on the front lines of disease response. Their essential roles as doctors, nurses, and community volunteers place them at greater risk for contracting viral diseases and for spreading disease to their family members.
2. When households are under strain, gender-based violence and exploitation increases dramatically. According to UNWomen.org there are currently 90 countries in lockdown, meaning 4 billion people are now sheltering at home. Helplines and shelters across the world are reporting massive increases in reporting over the past months. As the health and economic fallout continues, this is only expected to get worse.
3. Women experience greater devastation from economic fallout. When it comes to female labor around the world, women are more likely to be part-time workers and be underpaid for their work. Women have much higher job insecurity, and because a majority of women are employed as domestic workers, they are subject to long hours, low pay, and a lack of labor protections. This means women are the first to lose their jobs, go without pay, or face exploitation and mistreatment by their employers during times of economic crisis.
4. When medical resources are scarce, services for women and girls are sacrificed. Healthcare is already grossly underfunded in developing countries. Meaning, when a pandemic breaks out, crisis funding is not available. Money has to be diverted from other services to treat the viral outbreak. Funding for sexual and reproductive health care and pre-natal and post-natal services are typically the first services to be sacrificed, leaving millions of women and children at a much greater risk of not receiving the health care they need.
5. Gender inequality is further amplified during times of crisis. During "normal" times, girls and women face tremendous adversity in their daily lives. Under financial and public health strain, gender inequality is greatly amplified. Girls are already less likely to receive medical attention for illness, less likely to attend school compared to their brothers, and are last to receive a meal if their family lacks enough food for the entire family. A global health and economic crisis multiplies this by several degrees, leaving girls and women increasingly vulnerable to disease, hunger, childhood marriage, and slavery.
How S H E is supporting girls and women through this global health crisis.
1. Protecting jobs. S H E has committed to fully supporting and employing every team member throughout business closures. Ensuring women receive a steady income, unlimited sick leave, and job protection are core to our mission. And we are more committed than ever to our mission of serving girls and women.
2. Providing menstrual supplies and health education. S H E is continuing to distribute reusable menstrual kits and female health education resources safely to our community throughout this crisis.
3. Providing health and sanitation supplies. The incredible seamstresses of S H E are stepping up in a major way to make cloth face masks for students and local healthcare workers. We're planning to donate a hundred masks each week to the community of Notse as long as we're able. Every girl at S H E also received a cartoon called "Coco Virus" to learn how to stop the spread of the virus and stay healthy.
4. Providing at-home schooling materials for students. There is a major education crisis occurring around the world. Millions of children are out of school with no remote access to learning materials. We are committed to ensuring all our students have the education materials they need to stay on track throughout the rest of the school year. Our students are receiving a learning packet each week with fun activities and ways to help their brothers and sisters continue their learning.