Please Sign This Policy On The Impact Of Covid-19 on Women
When Nigeria recorded its index case of Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID 19 on February, 27 2020, Nigeria thought that the disease would be more of medical problem which would have an overwhelming effect on health institutions. As the virus continued to spread in Nigeria and across the world, the indicators showed that the impact of the pandemic exacerbated existing socio-economic challenges for women and girls and other vulnerable groups in the society.
The rapid assessment of the impact of the lockdown on women across Nigeria conducted by Partners West African Nigeria (PWAN, 2020) indicated among other things, increase in reported cases of sexual and gender based violence and related offences since the lockdown began.
The year 2020 has witnessed an unprecedented COVID-19 crisis that resulted loss of human lives and collapse in economic activity–something unseen in our lifetime, which risk the roll-back of most of the gains towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The pandemic has led the global economy of a new conundrum. Global growth is projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to fall to -3 per cent this year, making it the worst recession since the great depression and much worse than during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
The key findings of the research were as follow:
- The rapid assessment of the impact of the lockdown on women across Nigeria conducted by Partners West African Nigeria (PWAN, 2020) indicated among other things, that there has been increase in reported cases sexual and gender based and other related offences across the state since the lockdown began.
- Increased domestic stress, fear of uncertainties about the future, income decline due to job and business losses, loneliness and incessant reports of increase in sexual and gender-based violence.
- Increase in health risks for IDPs, which was complicated by lack of access to healthcare and personal protection as well as poor housing conditions, which make self-isolation, social-distancing, or even access to water and sanitation difficult.
- Negative implications on the Closure of schools for the education of children, especially the adolescent girls. This triggered the increase in the number of school drop outs due to forced marriages and teenage pregnancies in post COVID 19 era.
POLICY PRIORITIES AND RECOMMENDATION
In addressing the pandemic and its impact, the immediate focus has to be on measures to contain the spread of the pandemic and to treat the infected whilst providing support to cash-strapped individuals and firms to keep them afloat until the pandemic subsides. Government at all levels including Enugu State should aim to control and eventually overcome the pandemic as this might affect the readiness and willingness of both local and foreign investors to engage economically with the state. The provision of an effective, transparent, well designed and administered fiscal stimulus is also advised, which will make big difference once people start returning to work.
It is also important for the policies to be multidimensional, bold, and unbound by convention and that they are timely, time-bound, targeted, and transparent. Just as have been practiced in some countries, the following wide range of policy interventions are recommended for government in addressing the pandemic and its impact on the economy:
CSOs and Development Partners
1. Leading interventions in the areas of extensive advocacy and engagement with state agencies for synergy between thematic and sector experts in State responses and policy measures in the management of the spread of the virus
2. Creating strategic awareness on the impact of COVID 19 pandemic on vulnerable groups with a view for holding strategic stakeholders accountable
3. Developing related evidence based interventions around the many forms of violence that women face across their life cycle and in all contexts of their lives- private, public and technology driven spaces.
4. Investing in the work on the different forms of violence as per demand from communities and feminist movements to end SGBV
- Designing a stimulus packages, waiving of levies and taxes; developing sustainable employment programs for low income earners; and setting up a business administration programme offering grants to women in business
- Provision of adequate social protection mechanisms for those affected. This can be achieved by ensuring that every sector of government and society takes ownership of and participates in the response. A social security plan is therefore warranted and must be a priority for the Government.
- Private companies ensuring the continuity of essential services such as the food chain, public utilities, and the manufacture of medical supplies.
- Adopting an approach that unites every individual, community, business, government, organization, and regional in common cause to harness their collective capacity into collective action.
- Developing operational plans that will include capacity assessments and risk analyses by the State and LG authorities; and extending the reach of public health and socioeconomic interventions by civil society and NGOs.
- Adopting an approach that provides for ongoing assessment or surveys of the at-risk population.
- Establishing a plan in determining the need for more stimulus during and after COVID 19 targeted support in other ways e.g. financial, service provision etc.
- Encouraging insurance firms to provide bespoke insurance cover for work stoppages in times of health or social crises and include a tailored package for women and/or single headed households.
CONCLUSION As this report has demonstrated, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant public health measures adopted by governments at all levels including lockdown, restrictions of movements, closure of the public space and institutions has had variegated impacts on women, girls, among other vulnerable members of the Nigerian society. Some of these impacts, as this study has found, include increased stress, worries, and concerns that have had significant impact on the mental health and social well-being of women, children, and other vulnerable groups; job losses, income decline, and increase in sexual and gender-based violence. The consequences of these impacts will be wide scale, longstanding, and likely generational .Thus, response, recovery planning, and programming must ensure that those most impacted by COVID-19 are not forgotten.