London - Data is
urgently required to highlight the different impact of
coronavirus on women and men, with early signs that women face
higher levels of violence and more care work, researchers said
Although death rates appear to be slightly higher among men,
a study by aid organisations CARE International and
International Rescue Committee (IRC) found women were more at
risk of suffering domestic violence while quarantined.
They were also more likely than men to take on the burden of
caring for family members who were sick, and less likely to have
access to health care, according to the study.
"The effects and impact of global crises, such as Covid-19,
differ greatly across the gender spectrum," said Kristin Kim
Bart, gender equality director for the IRC, referring to the
condition caused by coronavirus.
"It is critical that changes are made now in collecting and
analysing data, enacting governmental policies and allocating
resources so that women and girls are not left further behind."
Women take on 76% of unpaid care work, the study found,
saying this would increase as health services became overwhelmed
and relatives needed to be looked after at home.
The researchers called for more data on the direct and
indirect impacts of the virus on women and girls, increased
communication to tackle myths and misinformation, and help for
frontline health care workers grappling with these issues.
Some countries have already seen a rise in domestic violence
since quarantine measures were put in place to arrest the spread
of the virus, and women's charities have said they are bracing
There are also fears teen pregnancies could rise after
previous epidemics in which schools were closed led to a spike,
as was seen in Sierra Leone during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak.
The UN Population Fund estimated that 18 000 teenage girls
became pregnant during that outbreak, with long-term
consequences. When schools reopened, the government banned them
from attending, and many missed university entrance exams.
"From natural disasters and armed conflict to public health
emergencies... power discrepancies are often exacerbated during
emergencies, which deepens existing vulnerabilities," said
Michelle Nunn, president of CARE USA.
"We need to ensure that the emergency response to Covid-19
doesn't forget society's most marginalised people, as is too
often the case."