Publication Date: 04/08/2020
Despite the number of COVID-19 cases in Rakhine State being quite low, the impact on rural food production and the livelihoods of thousands of farm labourers, who are mostly women, is immense. The loss of food production in the State could potentially push families into further poverty and produce further malnutrition in a State of Myanmar that already has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the country. Additionally, the growth of women’s empowerment, which is strongly linked to financial contributions to the household, will decline.
Women and girls in Rakhine State face inequalities in many areas, such as in employment and payment, division of domestic labour, decision making and participation. Those are likely to further increase in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. An area of specific concern is in the education of girls and boys, from poor families, who do not have the technical infrastructure and capacity to support, especially with the continuous internet blackouts across the State. Deployed in an operational environment characterised by ongoing volatility, COVID-19 prevention, treatment and containment efforts have faced multiple difficulties. Mistrust of government officers by communities, restrictions on humanitarian access, limited health services, coupled with targeted attacks on healthcare workers and facilities have proved to be serious operational challenges.