Publication Date: 14/06/2021
Nepal is currently undergoing the devastating effects of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. With the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections, the government of Nepal imposed prohibitory orders since April 29 in Kathmandu valley. Similarly, District Administration Offices (DAOs) in 75 out of 77 districts in the country have enforced prohibitory orders to break the chain of COVID-19 spread.1 As the country is reeling under the weight of increasing infections and death rates with fragile health infrastructure, there has been less attention to and evidence on gender and socio-economic impacts of the crisis on the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Global evidence from the previous year suggests that the pandemic led to disruption of social, political and economic systems and deepening of pre-existing gender and social inequalities. UN study 2020 highlights that the distribution of effect of any disaster or emergency correlates with the access to resources, capabilities, and opportunities which systematically make certain groups more vulnerable to the impact of emergencies, in particular women and girls.2 Women and girls in Nepal are particularly vulnerable to the immediate and long-term health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic because of the pervasive inequalities in gender norms and structures.
The RGA conducted by CARE Nepal in partnership with Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens (MoWCSC), UNWOMEN and Save the Children Women 2020 had shown that women’s unpaid care work and unequal division of labor were exacerbated because of closure of schools, public spaces, and care services. In addition, men’s loss of jobs and income and use of savings on gambling and alcohol had led to increased household conflict and women’s vulnerability to domestic violence. The study also revealed that 83 per cent of respondents lost their jobs; the hardest hit among them being women working as daily wage workers. The pandemic had also aggravated intimate partners and gender based violence for women and girls especially from marginalized groups such as Dalits, gender and sexual minorities (LGBTIQ++), women with disabilities, and adolescent girls.