Men die more from coronavirus. But locking will harm women and their rights


London (CNN) The new coronavirus appears to be more lethal for men. But in many other ways, women are the first victims of this pandemic.

From a spike in domestic violence and limited access to family planning services to a disproportionate economic impact, the lock-in measures put in place to stop the epidemic hurt women and their human rights far more than men. Previous epidemics of Ebola and Zika have caused major setbacks for women and girls in the regions hardest hit by the epidemics – and experts and activists warn that the same is happening worldwide.

Analysis of CNN earlier this year found that in countries for which data were available, men were 50% more likely than women to die after being diagnosed with Covid-19. But experts say focusing only on health data is dangerous.

“We are thinking of this crisis in very narrow terms, focusing only on the health impacts, but we are missing the big picture,” said Julia Smith, researcher at Simon Fraser University in Canada. Smith is working on a multi-year project examining the broader impact of the pandemic.

“Men have poorer health outcomes if they are infected, but when we think of the side effects, we see here that women are disproportionately affected,” she added.

The pandemic exacerbates the problems that women faced before it even started. “Crises like this exacerbate already existing structural inequalities in society – when it comes to women’s rights, women’s health and women’s economic status, that’s exactly what we’re seeing now,” said Kristina Lunz, co-founder of the Center for Feminist. Foreign police.

Women’s rights after the fact

Smith said that when marginalized groups are underrepresented at the decision table, their rights and needs are often overlooked. “And unfortunately, women’s rights are almost always an afterthought in any crisis situation,” she said.

As the virus began to spread around the world, many governments suddenly announced tight closings, confining most citizens to their homes. While this has helped slow the epidemic, authorities in a number of countries have recorded a disturbing consequence: spikes in domestic violence.

A women’s rights activist protested in mid-April against a bill that would have significantly reduced abortions in Poland.

Many activists say it was painfully obvious that such abuses would increase in a foreclosure situation. Many studies have shown that stressful events such as economic downturns or natural disasters often lead to higher cases of gender-based violence.

“Imagine all the women who were locked up with a man who hurts them … many of these women have already reported this to the police, they could have been contacted and taken away before the internment began,” said Elena Marbán Castro, fellow at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

However, in the vast majority of countries, domestic violence was not addressed by governments when the policy was announced. “This should be a top priority, completely natural for governments,” said Megan O’Donnell, deputy director of the Gender Program at the Center for Global Development.

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Several state officials in the United States have chosen to include elective abortions in limited medical procedures during the coronavirus epidemic.

This has potentially dangerous effects. Studies have shown that the number of stillbirths and maternal deaths has increased in some Ebola-affected countries because women have been unable to access appropriate services.

And the lack of access to family planning has long-term consequences that will be felt beyond the pandemic, according to Lunz. “Whenever women do not have control over their own bodies, the number of children they want and the time they want to have a family, these women and their children and their families are kept in poverty. “

Financial difficulty

So far, data shows that the economic consequences of the pandemic are also more severe for women. For example: 55% of Americans who lost their jobs in March and April were women, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

“Many of the industries hardest hit by the epidemic – tourism and other service industries, the healthcare sector – these industries tend to be dominated by women,” said Smith.

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And while many countries have stepped in to help those who have lost their jobs, many women are likely to fall through the cracks. “When you think of the economic recovery, we have to consider that the rescue packages only focus on formal employment and that women are disproportionately informal workers, so we have to think about how to target them”, a said O’Donnell.

At the same time, many more women than men have found themselves at the forefront of the battle against the virus. According to the World Health Organization, 70% of health and social service workers worldwide are women.

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Around the world, women are also responsible for the majority of unpaid child care and housework. According to UN estimates, women spend an average of 4.1 hours a day on unpaid care and housework, compared to 1.7 hours for men.

There is no reliable data showing the impact of school closings on working mothers, but anecdotal evidence is accumulating. Some academic journals say there has been collapse of women’s submissions since the blockages began. Men’s submissions have increased.

Single parents, most of whom are women, are the hardest hit by school closings. Lunz said the crisis is likely to affect the careers of women in the long term, delaying the quest for equality. “What we know from history, when women do not have access to resources and are not independent and cannot support themselves, they depend on someone else. “

“Do not think of anyone else”

The pandemic has also given some world leaders an opportunity to take more power, raising fears among women’s rights activists and researchers.

“Autocratic and toxic leaders are still the greatest threat to the rights of women,” said Lunz.

“This is what history shows, and this is what we see now, looking at Viktor Orban for example, it was last week that the Hungarian parliament, where his party is in the majority, adopted the law which prevents the country from making the Istanbul Convention into law. The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding treaty in the world entirely dedicated to combating violence against women.

Lunz, Marbán Castro, Smith and O’Donnell all said that the current crisis shows exactly why women should be “at the table” when decisions are made. Many have pointed out that countries led by women seem to be fighting well in the fight against the pandemic.

“The whole situation is crazy,” said Marbán Castro. “Before putting in a measure, we have to think about how it will affect all the people in our society – women, children, minorities, homeless people … this has not happened, the measures have been put in place to and by middle-aged men who don’t think of anyone else. “


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