CARE Rapid Gender Analysis COVID-19 – Pacific Region
This Rapid Gender Analysis reviews the gendered impacts of COVID-19, taking into account the particular needs, capacities and vulnerabilities of men, women, boys and girls in the Pacific.
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For the Pacific, COVID-19 presents a range of contextual challenges including multiple islands, vast distances and limited resources. In most Pacific countries, access to quality health services including intensive care is limited. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases, represent the single largest cause of premature mortality in the Pacific. Food security and livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to shocks due to semi-subsistence lifestyles and a high reliance on the informal sector for income.
A COVID-19 outbreak in the Pacific could disproportionately affect women and girls in a number of ways including adverse impacts to their education, food security and nutrition, health, livelihoods, and protection. Women are the primary care givers in the family and are key health care frontline responders placing them at increased risk and exposure to infection. Maternal and sexual reproductive health needs continue in an emergency but risk being de-prioritised. COVID-19 risks increasing women’s workloads, caring for children as schools close and the sick. Additionally, there is a risk of increased family violence in a region where pre-existing rates of violence against women are already very high.
Men’s gender roles and norms need to be taken into account in order to ensure that men are properly targeted to help reduce their vulnerability to illness and to leverage their roles as leaders and decision makers in the home and in the community to help prevent the spread of the disease.
The findings include
- Women as primary care givers and with high domestic responsibilities including food security, will have an increased workload.
- Women are key frontline responders in the health care system placing them at increased risk and exposure to infection.
- Women’s engagement in decision making and leadership is low despite domestic responsibilities and role as health care providers.
- Women are well placed to deliver community risk communications due to their roles, responsibilities and networks.
- Women’s economic status will be affected as key sectors such as tourism are impacted and quarantine measures affect the informal sector.
- Gender based violence may increase with the implementation of isolation and quarantine measures.
Based on these findings, we have produced seven key recommendations for all humanitarian actors to take into account when funding, designing and implementing COVID-19 related programs in the Pacific.
Whilst this is a Pacific analysis, every country within the Pacific has its differences. Therefore it is important to conduct country specific analyses that take into account country specific dimensions for gender (including those for people of diverse Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression and Sexual Characteristics – SOGIESC), disability, age and other marginalised populations.