COVID 19 Rapid Gender Analysis Middle East and North Africa Region
Publication Date: 10/04/2020
The novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been wreaking havoc on the international community in recent weeks and months, leaving almost no corner untouched. As of 8th April 2020, 1,464,852 cases and 85,397 deaths have been recorded in 212 countries1, including all countries in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region with the exception of Yemen. MENA is at a critical stage in containing the pandemic. Some countries have been successful in curtailing the spread by utilizing stringent lockdown measures, while other more fragile and conflict-affected countries, that are less equipped for additional crises, are only beginning to face the inevitable spread of the virus, with incredibly diminished health infrastructures. Widespread conflict, displacement, and migration in the region significantly complicates a controlled response to COVID-19, and extreme water scarcity makes
preventative measures even more challenging.
Women and girls in MENA faced numerous barriers to education, mobility, financial and asset control, and public leadership prior to the pandemic, and any positive gains made recently are at risk. They are impacted by losses in the informal labor market, elevated levels of violence and harassment, and increased burdens of caregiving for out-of-school children, sick and elderly family members.
Levels of psychosocial distress, already high in a volatile region are only escalating, with reductions in men’s roles as providers
being felt in a context of strict gender roles and stigmatization. The potential shift in men’s and boys’ role to provide increased
caregiving should be explored in contextually-appropriate manners.