Giving Compass' Take:

• The impact of COVID-19 is hitting women particularly hard by exacerbating structural inequalities that already exist, prompting the need for a gender-sensitive response. 

• What would that approach look like, and how can philanthropists help? 

• Read more on how COVID-19 response efforts impact women and girls. 

Razia with her six children and a drug-addicted husband lives in one room in a three-room compound shared with 20 other people. Pre-COVID-19, all the residents were rarely present in the compound at the same time. However, now they all are inside the house queuing to use a single toilet, a makeshift bathing shed, and a corner of the compound to cook rapidly disappearing food supplies.

Razia is just one example of the many women Aappa Aziz Trust works with in the slums of an urban center in Pakistan. Social distancing for women like Razia who are solely responsible for household chores and care is near impossible. Compounded by unhygienic conditions, the vulnerability of these women and their families to COVID-19 is enormous.

Though the COVID-19 epidemic is a nasty equalizer in affecting people of all regions, races, nationalities, genders, and social strata, the impact is not the same for all. The crisis has exposed the gendered fault lines of structural inequalities, hitting hardest those who are already the most browbeaten, the majority of whom are women. To avert compounding structural inequalities, evidence warns against a gender-neutral response to epidemics or pandemics. Despite multiple commentaries and efforts on gender analysis, a gender-sensitive response to the COVID-19 crisis is missing.

The disproportionate burden on women and girls as homemakers and caregivers in families, and as participants in the informal and insecure economy, has been well documented by many, and is acutely seen in the pandemic’s impact on women’s livelihoods.

However, a silver lining is that women who were successfully able to register for the COVID-19 support package have now made their work visible and counted in the official record. The government should use this data to link these women with social insurance and safety nets and prioritize them in post-crisis economic recovery efforts.

Read the full article about gender-sensitive response to COVID-19 by Jamila Razzaq at Brookings.