The Gender Centre for Empowering Development (GenCED), on Wednesday, urged the government to open up lines of enquiry into the gender impact of COVID-19 to acquaint policymakers with information to formulate comprehensive plans to tackle the pandemic.
It said women and children have equally borne the brunt of the pandemic and was imperative for countries and individuals alike to take stock of its impact on virtually all aspects of human endeavour.
In a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency and signed by Ms. Esther Tawiah, Executive Director for GenCED said women and children were equally faced with challenges.
The statement identified challenges as; increased burdens of unpaid care workers especially women and girls, increased risk of Gender-Based Violence, impact on women working in the informal sector, exclusion from leadership roles, effect on women with disabilities and increased psychological stress on women.
GenCED recommended that government should disaggregate data related to the outbreak in order to formulate demographic-specific policies to provide comprehensive coverage on all issues relating to the epidemic.
The data would also help build capacity for social workers in a bid to alleviate the burden of social workers to maintain the basic needs of Ghanaians which would, in turn, assuage mental and physical distress on women at all levels.
It said the government should strengthen the leadership and effective participation of women amid the COVID-19 crisis; this would bring a gender perspective to the creation of countermeasures to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
“Train women on how to deal with the virus. Since women are the primary caregivers of most Ghanaian families, it will be prudent if the government ensures they are abreast with all the techniques and skills for preventing infection as this will ultimately affect their families and the wider society by extension,” it said.
It said Psychological support should be provided to women directly affected by the outbreak and victims of gender-based violence and that the importance of mental health in women cannot be understated.
GenCED statement said this would ensure that women who were either affected by the outbreak or victims were not overwhelmed with negative emotions injurious to their health and was a step in the right direction to create a balanced and efficacious society.
It said attention should be given to sustain the delivery of female reproductive hygiene items to women affected by the outbreak for women were at a high risk of not getting the items they require to maintain their female reproductive health and should be given the items they needed without the influence of unscrupulous vendors who gouge the price amid economic turmoil.
It called on the government to provide Stimulus Packages for Women in the Informal Sector; ‘government should create a stimulus package for women working in the informal sector who are unable to run their businesses as a result of the pandemic’.
The statement said this would help them stay on their feet whilst the problem is being resolved and help maintain unemployment at a manageable level.
Additionally, it called for the training of First Responders on how to Identify and Treat Victims of Gender-Based Violence; besides treating the symptoms of the virus, first responders should also be trained on how to identify and treat victims and the reporting mechanism when seeking redress from the appropriate enforcement agencies.
It said special attention should be given to women with disabilities; in order to ensure that the needs of women with disabilities were addressed.
The statement called on the government to pay critical attention to how the coronavirus affected them and ways of surmounting the roadblocks that stifled their representation.