Wednesday, 29 April 2020 18:39

GENDER PERSPECTIVE ON COVID RESPONSE

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The County Directors in charge of Gender held a virtual meeting hosted by the Council of Governors on the 22nd of April 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Gender-Based Violence (GBV) emerging issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the communication strategies that will aid in sensitizing communities on GBV prevention and response as well as the rescue of the GBV survivors during the curfew and partial lockdown.
“The gender issue is a vital part of the society that can easily be overlooked in this fight against the Corona Virus. We should be careful lest we neglect this part. To be able to effectively handle the COVID- 19 and its effects, we should look at it holistically, and that means take into consideration all the sectors including the gender function,” said the Caucus Chair.
The Corona Virus pandemic has far-reaching impacts on all sectors of the economy, the gender sector included. There has been a spike in reported domestic violence cases throughout the Counties sprouting from the fact that families have to stay indoors together for as long as the curfew, the cessation and the work from home directive lasts. This can also be attributed to loss of jobs, decline in family income and frustrations due to economic hardship. Many differences arising during the period have led to increased cases of domestic violence hence increase in gender-based violence cases. Defilement cases are also on the rise during this period with women and girls being the most affected as they are often the victims of rape cases.
There has also been an effect of curfews on infant and maternal mortality rate. If an expectant mother were to deliver past the curfew hours, it would be a whole predicament accessing maternal health services. The County Director of Gender for Nakuru noted with utmost concern the negative effects of all these on expectant mothers and highlighted the plight of a street girl who delivered on the streets during curfew hours. It is anticipated that there will be increased teenage pregnancy cases due to the extended closure of schools and learning institutions.
The homeless and the street children pose a great challenge to the authorities since they have nowhere to go in this very critical time when they should be indoors in obedience to the curfew directives. They constitute vulnerable groups at high risk of infection since they are mostly in groups, live in unsanitary conditions, lack adequate personal protective equipment and don’t have proper information on how to act around this pandemic. In light of this, the County Governments have come up with various interventions to address these gender-based issues and social.
Most Counties have established toll-free numbers which GBV victims call to report, established rescue centres, established active County GBV technical working groups, some have GBV response groups that offer protected visits to homes of GBV survivors, some have gone as far as designating ambulances to pick up pregnant mothers, trained gender champions that look into gender issues while some have GBV focal persons in sub- counties. Some of the issues suppressing the successful implementation of these interventions include lack of finances, non- reporting especially by male victims and overcrowding of rescue centres such that some of the survivors may not be taken in.
Moving forward, the Directors agreed that Counties shall designate safe places and shelters for GBV survivors, there’s need to lobby the inclusion of provision of and access to reproductive health and psychological counselling as essential services to GBV survivors during this pandemic. Furthermore, County gender champions responding to GBV at sub- county level and Community Health Volunteers creating awareness on COVID-19 should have a crash course on GBV prevention and response to build their capacity in addressing GBV. In order to maintain dignity of vulnerable women and girls, it was proposed that procurement and distribution of sanitary towels and care packs to be prioritized. To protect County social development workers, community volunteers and gender champions handling GBV cases, there is need to issue them with PPEs and allowances to effectively fulfill their mandate.
Wash your hands. Stay home. Observe social distancing. We shall overcome.

Read 436 times Last modified on Wednesday, 06 May 2020 19:34

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