A new study highlights how women and girls in all their diversity are particularly affected by the social, health, and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. It provides concrete steps for action on how to embed intersectional approaches into German development cooperation’s work on gender equality and Covid-19 recovery.
The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities and discrimination in multiple and drastic ways. These regressions jeopardize international and German development goals on gender equality and inclusion, such as those of the 2030 Agenda and in particular the principle of "Leave No One Behind." This is also shown by the study " Study on the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality with a focus on intersectionality and economic empowerment" recently commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The study's findings and recommendations underscore the need for intersectional analyses and approaches to understand and address the pandemic's impact on gender relations.
The study interviewed experts to learn more about the consequences of the pandemic in five key issue areas. Also proven by other studies, this study demonstrates that the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated several global and local crises and conflicts. For example, food security, inequality, authoritarianism, violence, and militarization are all negatively impacted by the pandemic. A key recommendation for the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda therefore is that development cooperation strengthens the participation of marginalized groups, promotes the protection of women activists, peacebuilders and human rights defenders as well as preventing and counters violent extremism.
Women and girls in all their diversity are also particularly affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic, both in short and long term. School closures and sick family members, for example, further increased the burden of care work on women. Here, development cooperation should focus on the areas of unpaid and paid care work, decent work (f.e. workers’ fundamental rights in terms of working conditions, safety and remuneration), and the promotion of gender-responsive fiscal incentives and reforms.
The study also addresses striking parallels and intersections between the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, which both have gendered impacts and exacerbate structural inequalities and systemic marginalization. At the same time, the capacities and rights of affected groups in representing their own interests, needs, and solutions, as well as their potential to advance transformative climate action, are not recognized. A just recovery from Covid-19 and the transition to climate-resilient and sustainable development transformation is only possible if all social groups are actively engaged in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The impact of the pandemic also puts women and other marginalized groups in particular at increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence (GBV). This so-called "shadow pandemic" is based on a lack of equality, unequal power relations, and social norms that perpetuate patriarchal gender roles. This could be remedied through short-term prevention, support for civil society organizations, and also addressing gender-based online violence.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are also impacted by the pandemic through severe and long-lasting effects on their access. Overburdened health systems have resulted in resources and personnel being shifted to pandemic response, leaving certain other services unavailable. Short-term support is provided, for example, by ensuring access to basic SRGR services and information. Long-term support is primarily aimed at future prevention, raising awareness of SRGR to increase the resilience of SRGR systems in crisis situations.
Overall, the study recommends German development cooperation to use gender-transformative principles, to scale up existing priorities in the development cooperation portfolio and to develop them further intersectionally, as well as to implement new priorities and innovative approaches to strengthen gender equality. Sustainable change can only be brought about if development cooperation incorporates an intersectional perspective in its decision-making, strategies, programs.
The entire study (EN) can be downloaded here.
A German summary can be found here.