Which challenges will women/ girls face if COVID-19 is not quickly contained?
In 2019, COVID-19 was discovered in China and it has taken the world by storm in 2020. So far, it has plagued the world more than mankind was ever prepared to handle. The virus spreads primarily through
droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. In times of a deadly pandemic breakout of this magnitude, the outcome on people of all ages is devastating especially women and girls if measures to reduce the spread are not quickly put in place.
Women face heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their disproportional representation among health-care and social service personnel. Around the world, about 70 per cent of health and social service workers are women. Many are midwives, nurses or community health workers, roles that place them on the front lines of any disease outbreak.
Risks to women and girls also increase if health systems divert resources from sexual and reproductive health care to respond to the COVID-19 epidemic. Sexual and reproductive health services and commodities are often overlooked in times of crisis, yet women continue to require family planning, menstrual health supplies and maternal health care.
The pandemic if not quickly contained, can also give rise to threats that extend beyond the risk of infection. Evidence from previous disease outbreaks reveals that women and girls face particular vulnerabilities. In the 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, women faced significant barriers to health care due to lack of autonomy over their own sexual and reproductive health, inadequate access to health services, and insufficient financial resources. During the 2014-2016 West African Ebola outbreak, women were more likely to be infected due to their predominant roles as caretakers and health workers. This horrible cycle on women will be duplicate in the COVID-19 era if it is not handled as a case of urgency. School closures increase the burden of domestic care that typically falls to women and girls.
Among the people whose lives are being turned upside down by the coronavirus are many pregnant women. As they prepare for one of the most intense and emotional experiences of their lives, they face the possibility of delivering babies in hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients if the risk of spread is not reduced. Pregnant women are considered an "at-risk population for COVID-19" because they are generally at higher risk from respiratory infections. Pregnant women are faced with a whole different set of challenges, especially the stress of not knowing exactly how coronavirus might affect their child. There will be an increased risk of miscarriages and still births if women or girls are infected.
As the world goes through a pandemic like COVID-19, it is important that health systems all over the country and the world at large, put in place measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 as fast as they can.
By: NJOKE-TANGWING RAISA NGWENYI, for RuWCED COVID-19 Challenge 2020