21st April 2021
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Covid-19 impedes progress towards gender equality

Author: Rosemary Wilfred | Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Displaced women prepare a meal in an IDP camp in South Sudan | File photo

The coronavirus pandemic has erased decades of progress towards gender equality across the world, the UN Secretary-General has said.

Antonio Guterres cited the high job losses during the pandemic, unpaid care, disrupted schooling and an escalating crisis of domestic violence.

He stated that all these have impacted negatively on the lives of women as well as eroded their rights.

Surveys around the world have shown domestic abuse spiking since January of 2020—jumping markedly year over year compared to the same period in 2019.

In July last year, the UN Population Fund reported that more than 2,000 cases of the GBV had been recorded since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in South Sudan in April.

It attributed it to tensions rising within families and communities, leaving women and girls vulnerable to violence as they attempt to isolate or escape from the virus.

The UN Women believes women’s health, livelihoods and bodily integrity are particularly in jeopardy during the pandemic.

In his message on International Women’s Day, UN Chief Antonio Guterres called on countries, companies and institutions to adopt special measures to address equal participation among women and men.

“Males are an essential part of the solution. I call on countries, companies and institutions to adopt special measures and quotas to advance women’s equal participation and achieve rapid change,” he argued.

The UN outlined some of the violence that women experience during the pandemic such as sexual violence, femicide, harmful practices, sex trafficking including sexual harassment.

It added that in some instances women are coerced by landlords to vacate the houses, denied access to Gender-Based Violence and reproductive health services, stigma and other longstanding gender inequalities and forms of violence against women and girls.

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