A new report on the impact of COVID-19 on the social structure and empowerment of women has indicated that the socio-economic status of women is deteriorating compared to the pre-COVID-19 era.
The report found that factors such as reduced access to social services, restricted access to markets, spikes in costs, loss of income due to job loss and return migrants with no economic activity available have resulted in worsened the health and socio-economic status of women during the pandemic.
As the government continues to focus on getting the economy back on track for growth and creating new and sustainable economic opportunities for the teeming youth and workforce, experts called on the government to pay particular attention to the gender equality or female population.
The report, which was commissioned by the Africa Skills Hub (ASH) on the theme “The Impact of COVID-19 on Gender Equality: Empowering Women and Emerging New Opportunities Through Business and innovations â, also showed that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a reduction in the activities of CSOs and NGOs in the country – two agencies that play a vital role in the empowerment of women.
Providing an overview of the report, lead researcher Titilope F. Ajayi noted that it would be prudent to introduce innovative ways to empower women economically to enable adequate responses to future shocks.
She revealed that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, reduced mobility, limited access to information on relief programs with rigid thresholds, as well as reduced activities of CSOs and NGOs, further impoverished the female population already in difficulty.
Ms. Ajayi further said that although more men than women (57 percent) contracted COVID-19, women’s health has deteriorated in the areas of mental and psychological health. She attributed this to poor prioritization of mental health and lack of health infrastructure.
The research was conducted as part of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Livelihoods Initiative (WELI) conducted in selected regions of Ghana.
The Executive Director of Africa Skills Hub, Daniel Antwi, for his part reiterated the importance of placing women at the center of innovations in the era of adjustment to COVID.
He stressed that to rebuild better, it is prudent to involve all stakeholders towards achieving a more recoverable economic status for women – especially by encouraging their participation in policy making.
UNFPA on sexual and gender-based violence
A program specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana, Adjoa Yenyi, in turn said that as the world seeks to build back better – to ensure that development and the achievement of Agenda 2030 continues – there is a need to ensure that sexuality gender-based violence (SGBV) is adequately addressed.
She pointed out that UNFPA has three transformative goals, and the last one is zero gender-based violence and harmful practices; like child marriage and female genital mutilation.
Ms. Adjoa noted that addressing issues related to sexual and gender-based violence requires everyone to contribute their expertise as part of a concerted national effort to ensure the necessary success, especially as many vulnerable groups are affected.
According to statistics available at the Accra regional office of the Domestic Violence Victims Support Unit (DOVVSU), in August 2020, 31.9% of Ghanaian women experienced at least one form of domestic violence – physical, economic, psychological, social or sexual, she says.
Domestic violence, she said, has immediate devastating consequences for those affected in the areas of physical injury, mental health issues and ill-being. She added that sexual and gender-based violence also has long-term and far-reaching effects; including the persistent inequalities between men and women that limit the capacities of women and girls to realize their potential and to contribute to the development of their communities and the nation as a whole.
She noted that UNFPA is committed to working with partners to explore new strategies and innovative ways to achieve zero gender-based violence and harmful practices – adding that UNFPA is supporting the Gender Department to strengthen support for women. victims of sexual and gender-based violence through the orange support system. by supporting the creation of a Support Center.
The Support Center will serve as a platform where victims and survivors – via a mobile application (Boame App) or a toll-free call center, 0800 111 222 – can access assistance to facilitate psychosocial, legal, medical and physical, among others.