How Will COVID-19 Affect Young Women And Girls?

How Will COVID-19 Affect Young Women And Girls?

More than 70% of worldwide healthcare professionals are females. Clearly, we need more women in crisis response task-forces formed by governments and organizations worldwide.

The novel coronavirus or COVID 19 has literally paralyzed the entire world. After emerging in China, the catastrophic virus went on to wreak havoc across the globe, paralyzing Italy, Spain, Germany, the USA one after the other. As an immediate protective measure, most of the countries are under full or partial lockdown, and it – along with rampant testing – seems to be the only way out of this massacre. As a result of this, it becomes imperative to talk about the lockdown and its aftermath while discussing coronavirus.

According to a report published by the Center for Global Development, young women and girls are more perceptible to the social damages incurred by the virus than their male counterparts. This comes despite the fact that genetically males are more susceptible to be the direct victims of COVID-19. Let’s look at some of the reasons behind COVID-19 being the harbinger of adversities for the women –

Education And The Virus

As far as COVID-19 is concerned, children are much less likely to be directly affected by it. However, thanks to COVID-19, children’s education has temporarily come to a halt. 

As per UNESCO, nearly 89% of the students are out of schools globally, with around 743 million girls losing on education temporarily. 

However, what is to be understood here is that out of the 743 million, 111 million are from least developed countries, where often girls are educated out of governmental pressure. 

So, for a family that was already struggling with getting a square meal, the lockdown has become doubly heinous. This sole factor may see thousands of girls dropping out of schools; thus, taking the gender gap in education back by at least a decade.

Child Abuse And Neglect

It is often noted that young women and girls are expected to take care of unhealthy people at home. 

During this quarantine period, taking care of the entire house along with the unhealthy, elderly as well as siblings out of school, may prove to be too much to the caregiver. This essentially makes the young women of the household the secondary victims of the virus.

Furthermore, in already problematic households, the prolonged period of school holidays may also see uninterrupted child abuse, violence, neglect, and exploitation. Although many governments are taking steps to curb such instances, the adverse effects of the coronavirus are still felt hard.

Also, households that are undergoing severe cases of economic crisis amidst the lockdown may see children – especially girls – going through not just exploitation but also child labor and other gender-based violence.

Domestic Violence and sexual exploitation

One of the most horrific secondary aftermaths of the COVID-19 is undoubtedly the exceptional surge in domestic violence. 

Not only from the developing countries but reports of domestic violence and exploitation specifically on women has made news from across the globe, making the situation extremely grim. 

UN Chief Antonio Guterres recently called for a “domestic ceasefire”, urging the respective governments to take the matter at hand on priority.

Apart from that, cases of unwanted sex and intimate partner crimes have also increased manifold under the quarantine circumstances. It is not the first time that reports as such have surfaced.

Intimate partner violence is often seen on the rise during emergency situations, for example, in the wake of the recent earthquake in New Zealand or the hurricane Katrina in the United States. 

Such cases are also seemingly on the rise during the seasonal return of migrant workers to their homelands. Mobarak and Ramos have extensively studied such behavior in their report on the migrant workers of Bangladesh. Needless to say, such cases of unwanted sex and intimate partner crimes give rise to unwanted pregnancies, rising (sometimes unsafe abortions), and more instances of sexually transmitted diseases.

Healthcare Workers And Proper Hygiene

It has often been noted that 80% of the total healthcare workers across the world comprises of women. They are essentially the frontline soldiers in the battle against the COVID-19. 

Despite this, in many developing countries, instances of abuse on healthcare workers have been on a rise. This mentality of inflicting abuse comes from the idea that healthcare professionals are more susceptible to spread the virus.

Apart from this, many countries are still at a loss when it comes to proper PPE kits for the safety of primary caregivers. Alongside, complaints regarding the maintenance of proper hygiene and cleanliness in the healthcare quarters and workspace are also on the ground.

According to the World Health Organization, “this is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” and its reverberations will be felt for years to come. 

At this crucial juncture, the governments of all the countries must make it a point to address the social issues created as secondary aftermaths of the virus alongside the primary health concerns. It is only then that humanity will win in this prolonged battle against COVID-19.