Two years into Covid, Women Are At Loss       

Two years into COVID-19 pandemic, existing gender inequalities and socio-economic barriers have only exacerbated for women and girls with women folk continuing to pay a higher price.  

Since the onset of COVD-19 crisis, more women than men have left their paid jobs to provide essential services to their families, such as cleaning, caring for the sick and home-schooling children, according to a latest report on the effects of the pandemic in Asia and Pacific. Across Asia and the Pacific.

COVID-19 impacted outcomes ranging from access to health care, to employment to income, and women were often at a disadvantage, said the report “The lingering gendered effects of the COVD-19 pandemic in Asia and the Pacific. UN Women and the Asian Development Bank brought out the report, with the support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia.

In the foreword, Chiefof Gender Equality Thematic Group, Asian Development Bank Samantha Hung and Director, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, UN Women Mohammad Naciri  said: “This report provides data to assist government partners with the design of effective and gender-inclusive policies that will enable them to rebound from the pandemic. Further, it provides civil society organizations and other stakeholders with the necessary evidence to inform advocacy and accountability mechanisms.”

They hoped that the report would spur regional cooperation, inform evidence-based recovery responses and ensure that women are at the forefront of resilient Asia-Pacific economies.

FINDINGS

Vaccination: Across Pacific Island Countries, women have been overall less likely to receive the two doses, citing reasons such as fear of side effects and misinformation about risks associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding. In Indonesia, where vaccination rates are high, more women than men cited limited availability as the key reason holding them from receiving a full course. Across countries, reasons holding men from receiving their second dose mostly had to do with scheduling appointments, time constraints, or location of vaccination centres.

Labour: The crisis pushed more women out of labour market, as many had to quit their jobs to tend to family responsibilities. This may be contributing to widening gender gaps in poverty as women have been more likely to lose their income: More than 80 per cent people saw reductions in income since the onset of the pandemic: eight per cent people lost it completely. Women are substantially less likely than men to have access to personal income.

Remittance Flow: Nine out of ten people who received remittances prior to the pandemic and continue to do so, saw drops in the amounts received. In Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga, more women than men stopped receiving remittances. Default

Food Hardship: In Solomon Islands 66 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men are experiencing it. In Pakistan and Tonga more women than men experienced food hardship, although the gender gaps are small.

Unpaid Care and Domestic Work: Women carry the heaviest unpaid care and domestic work burdens across all countries. In 88% of cases women perform most of the cooking, and in 82% they do the cleaning. 24% of women and 15% of men now spend more time feeding, cleaning and providing medical care for children

 Environmental Crisis: COVD-19 overlapped with typhoons, droughts and other extreme weather, and during the pandemic. Nine per cent of people saw their water source compromised.

Disruptions to public transportation affected half of the population in Papua New Guinea, 36% in Pakistan, 33% in Kiribati and 30% in Solomon Islands.

In response to the pandemic, many governments have set up programmes to provide financial support, medical supplies, agricultural products, subsidies and stimulus packages to people and businesses. However, access to these benefits has been limited, with gender differences in some cases. The report indicates that, across countries, people with lower levels of education have been more likely to access such programmes, as these grants targeted the most disadvantaged population groups.

“The Rapid Gender Assessment data points to how economic resilience programmes that integrated gender-responsive designs and targets led to better development results for women and girls who were left the most vulnerable by the pandemic,” said Samantha Hung, Chief of Gender Equality Thematic Group at the Asian Development Bank.

“Moving forward, the Asian Development Bank, along with its public and private-sector partners, must ensure that gender data is fully integrated into post-pandemic policies, from design to implementation and monitoring, in order to ensure that women and girls are front and centre of inclusive recovery across Asia and the Pacific,”  Hung said.

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