March 2, 2021, Washington D.C. – Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a Congressional resolution, “Recognizing the Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls Globally,” bringing much needed attention to the unique threats the COVID-19 is posing to women’s economic, social and health security across the globe. CARE supports this effort to highlight the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts on women and girls, and thanks the senators for working towards a more equitable recovery. CARE calls on Congress to support its passage and to ensure response efforts – including vaccine delivery – accounts for the devastating consequences women and girls around the world are facing as a result of this global pandemic.
“Women and girls are facing disproportionate economic insecurity and an uncertain future. To build forward towards a more equitable world it is essential to recognize how the pandemic affects women and girls and put them at the center of our global responses. Currently, all eyes are on ensuring a fast and fair global vaccine rollout– overcoming systemic barriers to ensure that women and girls have equal access to the vaccine is critical to their health and well-being,” said CARE USA CEO and President Michelle Nunn. “Women need to be included in the solutions and their voices must be heard. We thank Senator Booker, Senator Murray, and Senator Wyden for pushing this resolution forward as it brings critical attention to the particular ways in which the pandemic is affecting women’s and girls’ health, safety, and rights in the long term.”
The Resolution draws attention to some of the most devastating impacts on women and girls:
- Due to disruption in programs and services as a result of COVID-19, millions more women and girls will experience complications or death in childbirth, unintended pregnancies, newborn deaths, and unsafe abortions. It is estimated that 47 million women lost access to contraceptives.
- Lockdowns and the insecurity caused by the pandemic has given rise to dramatic increases in gender-based violence, including millions more cases of domestic violence, child marriages, and female genital mutilation. This “shadow pandemic” has worsened beyond the already devastating rates of GBV pre-pandemic. According to UNFPA, there were an estimated 31 million more gender-based violence cases between April and October of 2020.
- Women’s economic security is in peril worldwide – they disproportionately face job loss, income insecurity, and heightened risk of exploitation as a result. Women comprise 92 percent of those in the informal economy, which often lacks the social and legal protections to keep them secure and help them meet their needs during this crisis.
- Crisis will uniquely affect women in agriculture, who provide more than 43 percent of the agricultural labor around the world yet whose ability to harvest, sell, and buy food and other products necessary for their food security and nutrition will worsen due to travel restrictions related to the crisis, ongoing discrimination in access to agricultural inputs and markets, and wage gaps and disproportionate unpaid care burdens for female farmers.
- The COVID–19 crisis will place particular burdens on women and girls in humanitarian emergencies given challenges including overcrowded conditions, restrictions on travel and movement, already strained health, hygiene and sanitation infrastructure, food shortages and malnutrition, already heightened exposure to gender-based violence, systematic and targeted attacks on health infrastructure and aid workers by parties to conflicts, politicization of aid and service delivery, and restricted humanitarian access, all of which exacerbates the spread and effect of infectious diseases.
“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the existing structural inequities facing women and girls globally, from increases in gender-based violence to worsening gender based disparities in lack of access to healthcare, education and economic security threatening to reverse decades of gains for women,” said Senator Booker. “Developing a comprehensive international response to COVID-19 requires that we acknowledge, address and work to end the inequities and disparities that disproportionately harm the safety, health and economic security of women here at home and across the world.”
“This pandemic has taken an outsized toll on women across the world as the health care, including reproductive health care, they need has become harder to get, economic security has become harder to attain, and gender-based violence has become more prevalent,” said Senator Murray. “We won’t fully recover from this pandemic until women recover—so we must address the specific health and economic burdens that women have experienced during this unprecedented time. And we cannot lose sight of the fact that this pandemic has only revealed and exacerbated the deep inequities that women have long faced, and must recommit to supporting women and girls and building a world where they can thrive.”
“From an uptick in gender-based violence to a growing lack of access to health care and education, women and girls across the globe are too often bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Wyden. “ The United States has a moral obligation to address the barriers faced by women and girls who are doing their best to keep their families and communities safe throughout this crisis. That means ensuring their well-being is at the forefront of a global approach to tackle COVID-19.”
CARE urges all congressional members to co-sponsor and take action on this resolution.