COVID 19: Why Women issues still matter

by Chioma Ezenwafor, Obii Okafor and Maureen Eugene

The month of March was specially designated to celebrate women all over the world for their hard work and resilience.

Every woman desires to be loved and respected. They want to be celebrated for their prowess, achievements, and contribution to society. The International Women’s Day and throughout the month of March is the most widely recognized period when women are celebrated, with events, conferences, and marches organized to celebrate and advocate for equality. When the month started every company made all sorts of publicity on their support for women. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and celebrating Women was displaced. The world’s attention turned towards fighting the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in the cancellation of several events. So basically, COVID-19 stole our Month and still made the conditions highly unfavorable for us. How so, you ask, I will explain.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Women had problems they were dealing with like working mothers struggling with caring for their homes and their workload, women facing abuse from partners, uncles, fathers, and others, Pregnant Women and Nursing mothers lacking proper maternal health services, women being ignored in core decision making processes in all aspects of life even as they struggle to be heard. Finding solutions to these issues was the reason Women’s month mattered.

How COVID-19 worsened Women issues

The strict guidelines on physical contact, self-isolating and the government-enforced “social distancing” – a new phrase that up until late February meant nothing to most people, have presented perfect ways to trap her with her abusers.   As governments all over the world impose restrictions on movement and even complete bans or curfews, women who are in abusive relationships will be forced to remain indoors with abusive partners. It may sound trivial and easy to dismiss but consider that about one woman is killed by her husband or boyfriend every hour in South Africa and that most women who suffer domestic abuse do not even report it.

The working mothers had their offices and businesses shut down and with little or no income, what happens to their families? The case is worse for those whose families solely depend on them. Some of the most impacted women are single moms who sacrifice their time working for the upkeep of the home and children. Many of them have lost their jobs or were forced to shut down their business.  They now have to stay home and somehow survive the coming weeks of uncertainty with little more than hope that the pandemic will be dealt with as soon as possible.

It is also obvious that most women will be encumbered with many chores as family members stay at home due to mandatory quarantines and lockdowns. Many women who work as foreign domestic workers are faced with uncertainties due to the travel restrictions placed during this period.

Already many hospitals and healthcare facilities are overwhelmed by the rising cases of COVID-19 that require hospitalization. This puts pregnant women in danger of not having access to proper healthcare facilities when they will need it. Nursing Mothers and Pregnant women have always received poor health care services, especially in Africa. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus has been on those infected and how to take care for them with billions being donated to fight the disease, What’s the present condition of Pregnant Women and Nursing mothers in all of this?

Why are Men still the core decision-makers at this time of COVID 19? Every time you switch to any channel to watch the progress of things, a group of men is debating on the matter, where are the women ? Or don’t we matter too.

What can be done to ease this?

The impact of the coronavirus disease on women cannot be discounted. It’s important we ensure they get much-needed support. Government support programs in these trying times must make adequate provisions for women who will suffer both economically and mentally from being stressed out due to COVID-19.

We all have a part to play to help women in these perilous times.

Men are home now, help your wife with the children, they are your children too. The government should provide financial assistance schemes to help families.

The Government should set up Domestic abuse and violence hotlines to curb the increase in these issues during lockdowns. Also, be on the alert so as to be able to pinpoint abuse when it sets in.

The Government should set up enhanced maternal health services just for Nursing Mothers and pregnant Women since these are desperate times so desperate measures should be adopted.

Decision making for all of humanity should include Women too because we are human, we can’t leave only one gender to make decisions for everyone.

Women policymakers can foster equality.

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