COVID19 stay at home orders especially harmful to women and girls
By Ngare Kariuki
| April 26th 2020
The Ministry of Health has been announcing the number of new
COVID-19 positive cases daily for more than a month now. Each time, the
minister outlines the list in terms of gender distribution.
However, the gender difference we should pay attention to
regarding COVID-19 is the social and reproductive health impact rather than
Currently, UNESCO estimates that COVID-19 forced 743 million
girls out of school in 185 countries (approximately 1.54 billion children and
youth enrolled in school or university are now at home). But the chances of
girls going back to school when this is over are significantly lower than those
For instance, unintended pregnancies disproportionately
affect girls. This has been made worse by limited access to contraceptives. It
is girls who will be forced to stay home while the boys go back to school.
On top of increased rates of domestic violence for women,
there is also the increased risk of early and forced marriage in marginalised
communities where the practice continues - such as in Kajiado County, where FGM
is practiced all year round.
Furthermore, disease outbreaks, in general, tend to increase
girls’ and young women’s duties at home since families default to them as the
primary caregivers for elderly and ill family members, as well as younger siblings
who are out of school.
Clearly, the gender difference we should be paying attention
to during this pandemic is not in the rate of infection, but in the number of
women and girls whose chances at a better future are getting slimmer with each
Kariuki is communications lead, NAYA Kenya
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