Lessons learned from past public health crises shed light on the potential consequences of epidemics, not only on the health of women and girls, but on all aspects of their lives. Today, faced with COVID-19, only 52% of countries provide sex-disaggregated data on morbidity and mortality related to COVID-19. Analyses of the broader impacts of the pandemic and the public health measures put in place to control its spread on women and girls are still too scarce.
Evidence worldwide indicates that women are disproportionately affected by the health and socio-economic impacts of intervention measures applied for the control of COVID-19. Women make up the majority of the informal labour sector and are more likely to suffer job losses or reduced income as a result of closed borders, markets and shops, and restricted movement. Sexual and reproductive health services are often the first to face restrictions in terms of availability and access. School closures place an additional burden on women, who take on childcare responsibilities, including ensuring adequate nutrition. Girls who cannot go to school are at increased risk of sexual violence, pregnancy, and early marriage – a trend that was widely observed in areas affected by Ebola during the 2014-2016 epidemic in West Africa. Risks are exacerbated for women and girls living in the poorest households in remote rural areas.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in March 2020, mixed methods data produced by the Social Sciences Analytics Cell (CASS) and its partners presents a dynamic where pre-existing disparities between men and women in terms of health, social protection and economic status are being exacerbated by the outbreak and its response.
This report presents an integrated multidisciplinary analysis of the impact of COVID-19 and its response on women and girls in the DRC, highlighting changes that have occurred since the beginning of the outbreak. The objective of this report is to provide evidence to support decision-making for strategies to respond to the outbreak to ensure that the health, protection and economic security of women and girls is prioritised.
It was developed by the Cellule d’Analyse en Sciences Sociales (CASS).