The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted lives across Asia. How successful countries have been in managing the outbreak and flattening the curve varies wildly. However, throughout the region the pandemic has exposed persisting inequalities deeply engrained in the structure of Asian societies – based on gender, economic position, race and caste as well as other factors.
Some impacts on women can be observed across the region like the heightened risk of gender-based violence or the greater economic vulnerability, since women in Asia are often employed under precarious conditions. However, some impacts like access to information, medical care, health insurance and social protection are varying from country to country.
Against this background, the FES Gender Justice Hub Asia has created the “COVID-19 Crisis and Women in Asia” paper series to analyse in more depth how the pandemic has affected women’s lives in the region. The series sets out to take a closer look at systemic implications of this unprecedented crisis and the policy responses. In addition, the series also explores women’s agency in the pandemic response. Through the series, the Gender Justice Hub Asia aims to understand the multifaceted impacts of the pandemic and identify strategies for a better and more gender just future in Asia.
The fourth and last paper in our series highlights and celebrates the work of Asian feminist grassroots organizations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Authors Fiona Vaz, Peny Rahmadhani and Rizki Amalia Affiat call for direct, sustainable, and meaningful participation of women’s organizations at all levels.
The third paper in this series assesses how the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation processes, especially in sectors that have a predominately female workforce. The study explores inequalities in access to technology by women workers and identifies factors that reinforce inequalities in context of digitalisation. Moreover, it takes stock of good practices of trade unions, informal workers’ associations, women’s rights organizations, governments, and other stakeholders that enable women to harness the benefits of digitalisation and minimize negative effect. The authors, Rosalinda Ofreneo and Benjamin Velasco, call for a stronger regulation of big tech firms and for measures to advance gender equality in the digital economy.
The second paper in the series explores the impacts of COVID-19 in three areas: gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and unpaid care work. Covering six countries – India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam – the report highlights the interconnectedness of the challenges faced by women and calls for a holistic gender-responsive approach based on a multi-sector analysis of the pandemic. The study outlines women’s context specific needs and provides recommendations to mitigate effects as well as to prepare for possible future crises.
The first paper in this series looks at the economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on women in Asia. It explores amplified vulnerabilities of women living in challenging economic backgrounds, difficult political situations and security environments. This paper highlights a lack of gender-sensitive responses and calls for the need to hear women in the response and recovery process.
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