Photo @ Bart Verweij/World Bank
Malnutrition is both a cause and effect of gender inequality. In addition to the direct health impacts of COVID-19, government and household mitigation measures have impacted economic, educational, food, and health systems that disproportionately affect women and girls. ST4N partners developed an innovative analytic framework that illustrates how gender inequities and lack of empowerment exacerbates their health and nutrition outcomes. It showed that women’s job losses were 1.8 times higher than men’s during the pandemic, which negatively impacted their economic standing and ability to access food and healthcare.
Additionally, women’s share of unpaid work can be up to 80-90%, which means they bear the brunt of the pandemic’s economic and social impacts. This research was published by ST4N in Social Science and Medicine, “COVID-19, Nutrition, and Gender: An Evidence-Based Approach to Gender-Responsive Policies and Programs.”
Policies and programs must address gender inequalities.
Based on the analytic framework, ST4N advocates for comprehensive policies and programs to address the underlying gender inequities. Its key recommendations to mitigate the impact of shocks on nutrition are to:
1. Provide targeted financial and social protection and to support women’s livelihoods.
2. Expand the reach of nutrition programs to vulnerable women and girls and the need for social protection programs to integrate nutrition.
3. Ensure access to continued nutrition, sexual, and reproductive health services.
4. Maintain access to school-based nutrition, education, and health services during school closures, to incentivize girls’ return to school, and to avert pressures for child marriage.
COVID-19, Nutrition, and Gender: An Evidence-Based Approach to Gender-Responsive Policies and Programs
Photo @ Dominic Sansoni / World Bank
These messages were integrated into a gender-focused policy brief titled, “COVID-19 and Malnutrition: A Toxic Combination for Women”, and an accompanying social media kit.