Discussion Paper: Gender & the Covid-19 Crisis in Conflict-Affected Context
Search for Common Ground
As COVID-19 spreads to conflict-affected areas, the pandemic creates new challenges for already strained health systems and social relations. Poverty, conflict, social norms and gender discrimination make women and girls more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 and less likely to access critical services including general healthcare.1 They also face economic disruption and increases in gender-based violence.2 A gender-sensitive COVID-19 response that includes women in all aspects of design and implementation is needed, not only to address these challenges but also to benefit from women’s expertise and relationships to shape the outcome of this pandemic and how it transforms communities.
The direct impact of the crisis on people’s daily lives offers opportunities to shift norms and to build resilient communities. Following the emergence of COVID-19, women have established themselves as leaders within their homes and communities and women peacebuilders are heard as trusted voices on health information. COVID-19 response can offer an opportunity to build resiliencies against COVID-19 and related violence that also protects against violence more broadly.
Search for Common Ground (Search) recently consulted over 30 teams around the world to understand their perspectives on needs and opportunities around the COVID-19 crisis, drawing from their experiences working in fragile contexts, with women and girls, and on other health crises such as the Ebola epidemics in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Based on these local insights and analysis, this discussion paper provides a snapshot of the gendered impact of the current pandemic in fragile contexts. It identifies key risks for women and girls, particularly on the issues of physical violence, overall security, and ability to enjoy fundamental rights. Finally, it provides recommendations for policymakers within donor agencies formulating their response to COVID-19.