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Research will evaluate effects of pandemic on gender issues


30/07/2020

Fiocruz Minas

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In partnership with an international research group, Fiocruz has obtained funding to conduct real-time analyses of gender dynamics during the Covid-19 pandemic. The research will be made possible through a $1.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Simon Fraiser University (Canada), which is passing on some of the resources to other institutions to include more countries in this analysis. Ahead of the study, researcher Julia Smith, from Simon Fraiser University, explains that the Gender and Covid-19 project is unique in focusing on gender-related effects on responses to Covid-19. The project will observe how social, economic and health policies interact with, exacerbate or mitigate pre-existing inequalities.

To make this observation, the  team responsible for the project launched a website in which a matrix on Gender and Covid-19 will act as a database and evidence for each country, demonstrating evidence of gender impacts, current policies addressing these issues, and failures in responses to the pandemic. A set of tools and resources made available on this site will provide guidance to public officials on how to respond to pandemics and epidemics using the gender lens.

The initial project was focused on China, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Canada, with support from Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). The researchers will now use the additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand the research to five countries, including Brazil in partnership with Fiocruz, in order to conduct qualitative case studies and research through a survey on the social and economic impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable populations. At Fiocruz, the case of Brazil will be coordinated by researchers Gustavo Matta, from the National School of Public Health (Ensp / Fiocruz), and by Denise Nacif Pimenta, from Fiocruz Minas.

The investment will allow the international group, which in addition to Canada includes countries such as the United States, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia and Brazil, to expand its analysis on gender issues, as well as the risks and impacts of the pandemic on the health and social and economic well-being of the populations. These countries are in varying stages of the pandemic, with different types of threats to gender equity, different economic contexts and, in some cases, recent recovery from outbreaks of other diseases, such as dengue and zika in Brazil and ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Gender and pandemic

Studies have shown that men die more than women of Covid-19, however, according to researchers, women face more social and economic problems that result from the pandemic. In Brazil, structural inequities already present in Brazilian society are even more accentuated in the context of the pandemic, and women continue to be disproportionately affected, especially women in situations of social vulnerability.

A good example of this impact on the lives of women can be seen from the closure of schools, which has had a differential effect on women, who generally assume more care for their children. In addition, women are more likely to be working in unstable jobs and to be fired due to Covid-19. Social isolation can also increase the risk of domestic violence against women. Health emergencies, on the other hand, can cause a displacement of resources in the areas of maternal care and sexual and reproductive health in order to meet the immediate demands related to the pandemic.

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