The Network for Women’s Rights in Ghana (NETRIGHT) in partnership with the Window of Hope Foundation (WHF) have embarked on a campaign to raise awareness on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, as well as interventions to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the group, women and girls are bearing a disproportionate burden of the larger impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘This is because women and girls are directly socio-economically marginalized in many societies and especially vulnerable in emergencies.’
They noted that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, women and girls in developing countries, including Ghana, face disproportionate hardships and the progress being made to close the gender gaps may falter or roll back.
“Across every sphere, from health, economy and security to social protection, the impacts of COVID-19 is exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their sex. Compounded economic impacts are felt especially by women and girls who are generally earning less, saving less and holding insecure jobs or living close to poverty,” they added.
It is against this background that the women’s rights advocates, with funding from Plan International, embarked on the exercise in four communities in the Atwima Mponua District, of the Ashanti Region with Serebuoso, Amadaa, Kwanfinfin and Nkrumah as the beneficiary communities.`
The Regional Focal Person for NETRIGHT, Mrs. Elizabeth Adubofuor, explained that unpaid care work has increased with children out-of-school, heightened care needs of older persons and overwhelmed health services.
Furthermore, she said caring for children, collecting firewood and in some communities fetching water increases the workload of women thus making it impossible for women to engage in any meaningful economic venture thereby compounding their poverty levels.
Mrs. Adubofuor, who is also in charge of WHF, in her interactions with opinion leaders, traditional authorities and community members observed that women will face more job losses during the current crises.
“More women are into tourism, garment, food processing, working in restaurants and selling of food items in schools among others, and all of which is being impacted by COVID-19,” she lamented.
Even in a regular year, women are already working 1.5 times more hours a day than men are – caring for children, collecting water, preparing food, cleaning house among others. She estimated that women do 76 percent of that unpaid care work.
On the impact of the pandemic on girls, she said studies suggest that most girls are getting pregnant because schools are not in session. “In some communities’ pregnancy will become a permanent barrier to a girl returning to education even once the COVID-19 crisis ends.” She added.
According to Mrs. Adubofuor, during the current global health crisis, maternity and reproductive resources and facilities are likely to be redirected to counter the pandemic, posing additional threats to the health and safety of adolescent girls and young women.
With these issues in mind and the knowledge that girls are less likely to return to school after a prolonged absence, she said steps must be taken to avoid a disastrous reversal of the recent progress made in girls’ and women’s learnings. This is because girls’ education has proven to be one of the most cost-effective strategies to promote development and economic growth.
Among other remedies to the challenges being experienced, she encouraged males in the various communities to engage in household activities, joint decision-making, time saving options for women.
She said it is of critical importance that responses towards the prevention, containment, management and eradication of COVID-19, take into account gender equality and women’s empowerment, so that women and girls are not left behind.
It is in view of this that she reiterated calls for much attention to be given to businesses that employ women and marginalized groups. She said support should not only be targeted at large and medium sized enterprises but also micro-enterprises and small business where women entrepreneurs are heavily represented.
NETRIGHT in collaboration with WHF also donated Veronica Buckets, hand sanitizers, tissue papers, liquid soaps and nose masks to the identified schools in the beneficiary communities.
Mrs. Elizabeth Adubofuor interacting with community members and school children at Nkrumah, in the Atwima Mponua district.