Ministry releases policy brief exploring gendered impact of Covid-19 in Pakistan

Prepared with UNWomen and the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), the brief explores specific vulnerabilities facing women and girls as the coronavirus spreads and makes broad policy recommendations to mitigate immediate risks and prevent the exacerbation of existing gender gaps.

In a statement issued on 12th of Aril 2020, the ministry said the brief delves into the larger political, social and economic impact of Covid-19 and presents an analysis of the potentially disproportionate impact on women and girls with a focus on thematic areas such as education, health, labour, forced participation, time use and mobility, financial empowerment and gender-based violence (GBV).

The brief emphasizes reducing the impact on girls’ education through tele-school initiatives and increased public and private partnerships to develop learning content and increase accessibility of learning materials to children through computers, televisions and smartphones. Another recommendation contained in the brief is that of ensuring the continuation of basic and reproductive health services for women.It also highlights the importance of devising mechanisms for providing regular support to the more vulnerable segments of the labour market and building economic resilience amongst women, suffering from low income security and lack of access to safety nets and social protection in times of crisis.

Targeted cash and loan programmes as well as access to financial services was a critical area of intervention to mitigate risks and the impact of Covid-19 on women in Pakistan. Such efforts were already underway through the Ehsaas programme and the Prime Minister’s Covid Relief Fund.

In the statement, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari emphasised the importance of ensuring access to GBV services is not interrupted. “Women are more vulnerable during a lockdown because they often have to live with abusers and may find it difficult to even call for help. The Ministry of Human Rights has ensured that our 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 specific and critical needs of women during this time,” she said.

Human Rights Secretary Rabiya Javeri Agha urged stakeholders to adopt a gender-integrated approach to the Covid-19 response at multiple levels. She said: “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.”

The brief highlighted the importance of including female leadership in policy making and response efforts. It reminded stakeholders of the need to generate sex disaggregated data and primary micro-level research required for effective policy making, as the lack of disaggregated data hinders targeted and effective relief response in times of crisis and humanitarian emergency.


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