COVID-19 to worsen gender inequalities in Pakistan
Human rights report suggests pandemic likely to have adverse impact on the lives of women and vulnerable groups
KARACHI: While the entire world is being adversely affected by the novel coronavirus, serious concerns are being raised over worsening of the already existing social and gender inequalities in Pakistan.
Policy Paper 'Gendered Impact and Implications of Covid-19 in Pakistan' — jointly released by the Ministry of Human Rights, UN Women Pakistan and National Commission on the Status of Women (NSCW)— states that the pandemic is likely to have an adverse impact on the lives and livelihoods of women and vulnerable groups.
The paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the specific vulnerabilities that women and girls face because of the coronavirus with a focus on six key thematic areas including education, health, labour force participation, time use and mobility, financial empowerment, and gender-based violence (GBV), and presents broad policy recommendations to mitigate immediate risks and prevent the exacerbation of existing gender gaps.
The publication citing that most women in Pakistan are part of the informal low-wage labour market and thus suffer from low-income security and a lack of access to safety nets and social protection during the crisis, suggested certain measures including building women’s economic resilience, targeted cash and loan programmes as well as access to financial services.
It further suggested the integration of gender-based violence services into response efforts as essential services.
“Women’s vulnerability increases with lockdown as they often have to live with abusers and may find it difficult to even call for help,” minister for Human Right Shireen Mazari stated.
She elaborated that the Ministry of Human Rights has ensured that its helpline and women crisis shelters remain operational during the crisis, with specific protocols in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are also working towards ensuring that the police, health workers, and social workers are responding to the specific and critical needs of women during this time,” she added.
Meanwhile, Federal Secretary Human Rights Rabiya Javeri Agha urged stakeholders to adopt a gender integrated approach to the Covid-19 response at multiple levels.
“This policy brief and gender analysis should serve as an essential resource document to guide stakeholders to effectively address gender inequalities emerging in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan,” she said.