She Told Us So (Again)
Publication Date: 08/03/2022
COVID-19’s impacts around the world are worse than they were in September 2020. Far from a return to “normal,” women and girls CARE works with around the world are saying that their situation continues to get worse as COVID-19 drags on amid other crises. Fati Musa in Nigeria says, “Women have suffered a lot during the pandemic, and we are not yet recovering from this hardship.” 55% of women were reporting gaps in their livelihoods as a priority in 2020. Now that number is 71%. For food insecurity, the number has jumped from 41% to 66%.
Since March of 2020, CARE—and more importantly, the women CARE works with—have been warning that COVID-19 would create special challenges for women and girls, above and beyond what men and boys would face. Tragically, these women were exactly right. What they predicted even before the WHO declared a pandemic has come true. In September 2020, CARE published She Told Us So, which showed women's and men's experiences in the pandemic so far. In March 2022, updated data shows that the cost of ignoring women continues to grow. For more than 22,000 people CARE has spoken to, COVID-19 is far from over. In fact, the COVID-19 situation has gotten worse, not just for women, but for men, too.
Ignoring the voices of women, girls, and other historically marginalized groups has worsened the situation for everyone—not just for women. Men are more than twice as likely to report challenges around livelihoods, food insecurity, and access to health care as they were in 2020, and are three times more likely to report mental health challenges—although they are still only two-thirds as likely as women to report mental health as a priority. As women burn through their coping strategies and reserves, men are also facing bigger impacts over time.
Women have stepped up to the challenge—especially when they get support from each other and opportunities to lead. They are sharing information, preventing COVID-19, and using their resources to support other members of their communities. 89% of women in savings groups in Yemen are putting some of their savings to help others. Women are stepping into leadership roles, "We are women leaders in emergency . . . we have the capacity to say: I have a voice and a vote, I am not going to stay stagnant . . . (participant, Colombia). In Niger, women are saying, “Now we women are not afraid to defend ourselves when a decision does not suit us. We will say it out loud because our rights are known and we know the ways and means to claim our rights.”
Those accomplishments are impressive, but they come at a cost. The constant struggle for their rights, and for even the most basic necessities, is taking its toll. Women are almost twice as likely to report mental health challenges as they were in 2020. As one woman in Iraq describes, “If any opportunity appeared, the man would be the favorite . . . This psychologically affected many women, as they turned to household work which included preparing food and cleaning only.”
To understand these challenges and create more equitable solutions, CARE invests in listening to women, men, and people from marginalized groups to understand the challenges they face, what they need, and the ways in which they lead through crisis. This report represents the voices of more than 22,000 people in 23 countries since September of 2020.