×
× Digital News Videos Opinion Special Reports Lifestyle Weird News Health & Science Education Columns The Hague Trial Kenya @ 50 Comand Your Morning E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS
×

Covid-19: Remember more men are dying as women shoulder more responsibilities

By Njenga Gitahi | July 20th 2020 at 07:11:01 GMT +0300

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe briefs the nation on its Covid-19 status. [Archive, Standard]

Pre-existing social, political and economic inequalities in the society are exposing our vulnerabilities and amplifying the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic but the gender aspect has been overlooked.

  The pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect on women with the consequences likely to outlast the actual epidemic.

The health crisis has highlighted and worsened the inequalities for women and girls simply by virtue of their gender with the consequence of limiting their work and economic opportunities. 

 With the virus exposing health inequalities, it is common knowledge that gender is a social and economic determinant of health and as such we cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all approach for Covid-19. Besides, women health issues are unique. 

According to the World Bank Global Gender-Based Violence Task Force, the world is seeing a surge in violence against women and girls with one in every three women experiencing this vice.

 While anecdotal evidence suggests spikes in child marriages, female genital mutilation and unintended pregnancy, these vices have vast and far-reaching impacts on the rights and health of women and girls due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic is exacerbating inequalities as more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health. 

Beyond gender-based violence, women have another added responsibility rendered more urgent by the Coronavirus disease — childcare. With the closure of schools and daycare centres, the responsibility of women is even heavier.

This has had a particularly large impact on working mothers as second earners since they are likely to do more of these tasks than working fathers. Equally some fathers have also taken up parental responsibility for childcare which may culturally erode social norms. 

On the other hand, it is expected that, in particular, single mothers, who frequently find themselves in a disadvantaged economic position, will be the most affected. 

Women form over 70 per cent of workers in the health and social sector acting as frontline responders, healthcare workers, and community organisers and volunteers. This means they are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.  

Should we ensure gender balance in this sector?  

This gender factor coupled with historical and socio-economic deprivation, limited access to resources and pay gaps compounds this inequality. 

There is, therefore, need to address these gendered inequalities to enhance the women and girl’s well-being, social protection while helping on gender roles and norms. Women can better play their economic roles. 

However, the role of gender in morbidity and mortality has revealed that men and women have similar odds of contracting the virus but with a strong skew towards men. 

Remarkably, the mortality rate of men is rising significantly faster than it is for women in general. Gender and biological differences in the response of the immune system and hormonal factors have increased the susceptibility and possibilities for greater male vulnerability and risk for worse outcomes and death.  

On this, men should be protected just as women are against gender-based violence and economic deprivation. 

Managing deep-rooted gender inequalities amidst the Covid-19 crisis by responding and planning long term measures will negate the impact of the virus on the social and economic front thus making men and women more resilient to future crises. 

Governments and policymakers must, therefore, address gender-related issues that hinder access to universal healthcare and social protection.

Of necessity then is the need for strategies aligned with International Labour Standards that are designed and implemented to tackle the new challenges posed to the changing world of work for work of equal value during Covid-19 and beyond. 

The situation, therefore, calls for government and policymakers to design measures that are aimed at recognising, reducing and redistributing the gender burden through stimulus programs, economic recovery packages and the preparation of the much-needed relief, expansion and investment in universal social protection and allocation of additional resources to address violence against women and girls in Covid-19 national response plans. 

 To tip the scale, these agencies must also call for increased participation in women’s inclusion, leadership, and representation as empowered change agents at the heart of resilience and recovery. The envisaged interventions should go beyond Covid-19 and become institutionalised. 

Pre-existing social, political and economic inequalities in the society are exposing our vulnerabilities and amplifying the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic but the gender aspect has been overlooked.

  The pandemic has had a disproportionately negative effect on women with the consequences likely to outlast the actual epidemic.

The health crisis has highlighted and worsened the inequalities for women and girls simply by virtue of their gender with the consequence of limiting their work and economic opportunities. 

 With the virus exposing health inequalities, it is common knowledge that gender is a social and economic determinant of health and as such we cannot adopt a one-size-fits-all approach for Covid-19. Besides, women health issues are unique. 

According to the World Bank Global Gender-Based Violence Task Force, the world is seeing a surge in violence against women and girls with one in every three women experiencing this vice.

 While anecdotal evidence suggests spikes in child marriages, female genital mutilation and unintended pregnancy, these vices have vast and far-reaching impacts on the rights and health of women and girls due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The pandemic is exacerbating inequalities as more women and girls now risk losing the ability to plan their families and protect their bodies and their health. 

Beyond gender-based violence, women have another added responsibility rendered more urgent by the Coronavirus disease — childcare. With the closure of schools and daycare centres, the responsibility of women is even heavier.

This has had a particularly large impact on working mothers as second earners since they are likely to do more of these tasks than working fathers. Equally some fathers have also taken up parental responsibility for childcare which may culturally erode social norms. 

On the other hand, it is expected that, in particular, single mothers, who frequently find themselves in a disadvantaged economic position, will be the most affected. 

Women form over 70 per cent of workers in the health and social sector acting as frontline responders, healthcare workers, and community organisers and volunteers. This means they are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.  

Should we ensure gender balance in this sector?  

This gender factor coupled with historical and socio-economic deprivation, limited access to resources and pay gaps compounds this inequality. 

There is, therefore, need to address these gendered inequalities to enhance the women and girl’s well-being, social protection while helping on gender roles and norms. Women can better play their economic roles. 

However, the role of gender in morbidity and mortality has revealed that men and women have similar odds of contracting the virus but with a strong skew towards men. 

Remarkably, the mortality rate of men is rising significantly faster than it is for women in general. Gender and biological differences in the response of the immune system and hormonal factors have increased the susceptibility and possibilities for greater male vulnerability and risk for worse outcomes and death.  

On this, men should be protected just as women are against gender-based violence and economic deprivation. 

Managing deep-rooted gender inequalities amidst the Covid-19 crisis by responding and planning long term measures will negate the impact of the virus on the social and economic front thus making men and women more resilient to future crises. 

Governments and policymakers must, therefore, address gender-related issues that hinder access to universal healthcare and social protection.

Of necessity then is the need for strategies aligned with International Labour Standards that are designed and implemented to tackle the new challenges posed to the changing world of work for work of equal value during Covid-19 and beyond. 

The situation, therefore, calls for government and policymakers to design measures that are aimed at recognising, reducing and redistributing the gender burden through stimulus programs, economic recovery packages and the preparation of the much-needed relief, expansion and investment in universal social protection and allocation of additional resources to address violence against women and girls in Covid-19 national response plans. 

 To tip the scale, these agencies must also call for increased participation in women’s inclusion, leadership, and representation as empowered change agents at the heart of resilience and recovery. The envisaged interventions should go beyond Covid-19 and become institutionalised. 

- Dr Njenga lectures at The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and is also a researcher with ACAL's Covid-19 Thinktank


Covid-19 Kenya Policy Gender
Share this story

Read More

Feedback