As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to hit hard and disrupt the daily lives of women, men and children, governments are under immense pressure to curb further spread of the disease and offer a fast response to avert its devastating consequences to human life and the economy. As the Government of Uganda progressively rolls out preparedness, risk reduction and response measures, it’s imperative that critical attention is given to the different impacts COVID-19 like all other pandemics and disasters has on women and men. As already noticed in Uganda, amidst the implementation of the COVID-19 response that includes scale down of government and non-government services, movement restrictions and lock down of businesses, women have continued to shoulder the burden of ensuring the wellbeing and continuity of their families and society at large through working to provide maternal care, child care, elderly care and health care. Women also constitute the majority of cleaners for essential services, workers in super markets, regular markets and provision of social services, most of which have remained open during the lock down.
As the Government continues to encourage citizens to stay at home and further enforces a 7:00pm-6:30am curfew, women, men and children find themselves in smaller spaces for longer periods of time under circumstances of economic strain with some families unable to afford two meals a day while others cannot practically maintain social distance. In situations of economic and social stress, women and girls always bear the brunt of things due to the pre-existing gender inequalities that make them susceptible to violence, their unique maternal and reproductive functions, and low status in society. It is no wonder that a rise in cases of violence against women and girls has been realized, with several cases of extreme violence, five (5) of which resulted into death according to the March 31st issue of the New Vision Newspaper and others documented by members of the Domestic Violence Act Coalition. Nevertheless, limited prevention and response measures to violence against women and girls have been scaled up during this pandemic.
It is on the above premise therefore, that the Domestic Violence Act Coalition calls upon the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Office of the Prime Minister, Equal Opportunities Commission and all Task Forces at National and District level managing the COVID-19 pandemic to incorporate a gender perspective into the risk reduction and response plan and Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to not only achieve better outcomes for women and girls but for everyone. Click here to read all the nine (9) recommendations on how this can be achieved.