Since March 2020, Oxfam GB, through its Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) program has been consolidating a Gender and COVID-19 resource library in 50 countries globally. The library acts as an important record of the global breadth of publications that discuss and analyze gendered dimensions of COVID-19 between March and July 2020. Click Here to read more about the “disappearance” of 915 women since the start of confinement which has reactivated fears related to the increase in gender-based and sexual violence.
Since the outbreak of the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), emerging data and reports from those on the front lines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls (VAWG) have intensified in countries affected by the pandemic. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that one in three women will experience violence during their lifetimes. Globally, 18% of ever-partnered women and girls aged 15–49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a current or previous partner in the previous 12 months. Further, with COVID-19 there are reports of surges in violence against women (VAW) around the world being reported in many cases of upwards of 25% in countries with reporting systems in place. For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million additional cases of gender-based violence are expected. Click the link to read more Gender Based Violence in Africa during the COVID-19 Pandemic
A rapid assessment of the effects of COVID-19 by Hivos East Africa’s Women@Work indicates that food security is a major concern for flower farm workers mainly due to job losses and increasing food prices.
The study recommends that the government expand COVID-19 social protections for workers who have lost their jobs, regulate the prices of food and other essential goods, and offer free mass testing, personal protective equipment, quarantine services and healthcare for the horticultural sector, amongst other measure.
This rapid assessment report is part of a large initiative led by Hivos East Africa in collaboration with Women@Work partners to promote decent work for women in the global horticulture supply chain and focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women in the horticulture sector. The rapid assessment was conducted through a phone survey carried out between April 29 and May 11, 2020.
The assessment of the impact on workers presented in this report will inform and shape industry/policy measures that will be introduced to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on flower farm workers, specifically women.
This report, which is a consolidation of the six country reports, offers a brief description of how the assessments were undertaken, the key findings and concrete recommendations to governments, business, trade unions and civil society organizations. The recommendations are geared towards strengthening response to ensure protection of women’s human and labor rights during and after the pandemic.
No one would have imagined the effect that COVID-19 would have, in almost all sectors across the globe, including horticulture. It is within this context that Hivos commissioned a rapid assessment with an aim to establish the impact of the virus amongst women in the horticulture sector, specifically in Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Rwamagana District, where Rwanda Women’s Network implemented the Women@Work Campaign initiative in Rwanda.
The assessment used both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. In total, 28 respondents from four horticulture farms in the above-mentioned districts participated in the assessment. The study paid special focus on their current employment status, living conditions, changes in their household expenses and their outlook on their future. The understanding of COVID-19 by women workers was also of key interest for the purpose of this assignment.
Title: Impact of Covid-19 on Women Workers in the Horticulture Sector in Rwanda
The Covid-19 pandemic now entering its fifth month has sparked an unprecedented global health crisis that has fundamentally disrupted the social and economic fabric of all countries. Governments have imposed severe restrictions on movements and travel that have virtually locked down countries. Most African countries have imposed some degree of restrictions to protect the populations from the spread of the virus. This is clearly an important protective step, but we also need to consider the very real danger that the Covid-19 pandemic will leave. COVID-19 is overshadowing other challenges like locust in East Africa, and likely climate volatility issues such as drought and flooding that normally get attention and now, they may impact communities while everybody is looking somewhere else.
At this point, most of us are aware of the far-reaching impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. As of this writing, Covid-19 has killed over 850,000 people around the world, and it’s a health crisis that has set off a chain reaction of calamities in other sectors. When governments implemented necessary policies to stop the spread of the virus, people retreated from public life. Borders were closed, flights canceled, schools and offices shuttered. A health crisis became an economic crisis, an educational crisis, and so on.
It’s even spawned additional public health issues, as people avoid checkups and routine care. Vaccines, for example, are considered a proxy measure for how well a health care system is functioning. During the pandemic, global vaccine coverage dropped from 84 to 70 percent, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). It’s a low not seen since the 1990s.
Further evidence of this chain reaction can be seen in the arrested progress of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a group of interconnected objectives — such as ending poverty and hunger and increasing access to health care and clean water — the organization hopes to accomplish by 2030. Each year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation tracks the world’s progress toward these goals in its Goalkeepers Report. While it always points out areas where there could be improvement, it’s usually happy to announce headway has been made on all goals; however, 2020 looks very different. The report estimates the world community has regressed on nearly all of the 18 indicators it tracks each year.
Ahead, we highlight three key takeaways from the report. They show not only where the world is moving in the wrong direction, but also the right one — and how we can end the pandemic and resume progress on the United Nations’ SDGs as expediently as possible.
The financial crisis will not end with the pandemic for everyone
Necessary measures designed to stop the virus’ spread plunged the world into the worst recession since the end of World War II, a financial retraction that’s twice as bad as the Great Recession in 2007-09. Countries poured a collective $18 trillion into their economies, but poorer nations could not afford major stimulus packages.
“The amount of resources you have govern what kind of response you’re able to mount to Covid,” says Vishal Gujadhur, who works on the Development Policy and Finance team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “G20 countries spent over 20 percent of GDP in their emergency measures, whereas developing countries spent about 3 percent.”
Now, the IHME estimates extreme poverty has increased by 7 percent in 2020 — the first increase in 20 years. Thirty-seven million people have fallen below the extreme poverty line ($1.90 per day in lower-middle income countries) so far this year, and 68 million have fallen below the poverty line ($3.20 per day).
But while the pandemic has taken a greater economic toll on developing countries and vulnerable communities, there are signs of hope — in low- and middle-income nations coming together to mount an economic response to the pandemic, and in efforts to ensure an eventual vaccine is distributed equitably among all nations.
Lower-income countries are innovating in the financial sector
One place the world is seeing progress is in low- and middle-income countries, where some of the most vulnerable people live. In Nigeria, more than 100 private-sector partners created the Coalition Against Covid (CACOVID). So far, they’ve raised $80 million to bolster the government’s response. Other developing countries have created technologies to transfer cash to people, and the World Bank estimates 131 countries have either implemented programs or expanded existing ones since February. All together, the measure is estimated to have reached 1.1 billion people.
The West African Economic and Monetary Union, an eight-country financial community, has sped up the process of opening a bank account. It now allows residents to do it via text message and then follows up to verify their identity within three months. The switch has allowed more than 8 million West Africans to open an account while in lockdown.
India, which had a digital identity and payment system in place before the pandemic, was able to transfer cash to 200 million women soon after the pandemic hit. It’s not only allowed the country to avoid an increase in hunger and poverty, but also advanced its long-term goal of empowering women by including them in the economy.
A vaccine is coming — but it must be distributed equitably
How fast the global economy can bounce back is the question everyone would like an answer to. It’s now clear that the vaccine which will end the pandemic will also be the key to economic recovery. But to do so, it is critical that the vaccine be distributed equitably across the globe.
Right now, countries have bet on a few pharmaceutical companies and locked in supply for only their own populations; however, only 7 percent of vaccines in the early stages of testing go on to be approved. Some countries will win these bets, but they cannot have a winner-take-all mentality. Reserving doses for one country, or even a few, will only lengthen the pandemic.
“If there’s only one billion doses of vaccine next year, that’s not enough for everyone, even in high-income countries,” says Gujadhur. “By the end of 2021, the pandemic could be behind us for a lot of countries. And the question is how many? Is that just 10 countries that have it behind them? Or is it 60, 80, 100?”
The Goalkeepers Report calls for every entity in the international financial system — governments, businesses, and development banks — to mount a cohesive response to ending the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not yet clear if the world can organize that kind of collaborative response, but there are reasons to be optimistic. In the spring, the Access to Covid-19 Accelerator (ACT-A) was launched in response to a call from G20 leaders to mobilize an equitable response to the pandemic. It has partnered with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI), an organization that has invested in nine vaccines, and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, which helps to buy and distribute vaccines to lower-income countries.
“CEPI has the largest portfolio in the world, with nine vaccines it’s investing in. So it’s maximizing the chances that we’re going to have a successful vaccine that is really effective,” says Gujadhur. “And the UK and the US have invested in so many vaccines that they probably have enough for everyone in their country and then be able to donate to other countries as well.”
The good news is this best-case scenario is still within reach. “It’s not a fantasy, but it’s not a foregone conclusion,” says Gujadhur. “It requires hard work, political leadership and thinking beyond the bounds of your country.”
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that everything and everyone is connected. While the world community faces significant challenges in mounting a response, it’s clear that to end the pandemic’s devastating health and economic effects, our solutions must also be global, interconnected, and fairly distributed to all.
COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in severe consequences to the global economy. The surging economic crisis being witnessed globally has further widened existing gaps in countries’ preparedness and response systems. With the world’s economy largely relying on agriculture, the horticulture sector is rated among the top foreign exchange earners with Kenya ranked as the leading exporter of fresh produce and cut flowers to the European market. Within the horticulture sector, floriculture has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic recording huge losses due to lockdowns, closure of flowers markets in Europe and cancellation of international flights. Read More