Strengthening gender equality in the context of COVID-19

Dispatch from UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu, Nepal: Aniska Graver’s third blog from the virtual field

Photo: UNICEF LACRO/2020

By Aniska Graver, MIPP

The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating pre-existing inequalities and exposing vulnerabilities in the social systems. As such, vulnerable groups such as women and girls are adversely affected by the impacts of the virus. Prevailing gender norms and inequalities have made women more likely than men to be responsible for unpaid domestic work, and for care for children and ill family members. Consequently, the pandemic has worsened the unpaid care burden for women and girls, leaving many to stop working, girls dropping out of school and increasing the risk of gender-based violence (GBV). As a result, most South Asia country offices (CO) gender programming is focused on COVID-19 responses.

I had the pleasure of working on the Regional Office South Asia (ROSA) gender-based violence in emergencies (GBViE) learning series for the majority of my internship. Throughout the pandemic, cases of GBV have risen significantly, and lockdowns and confinement have increased the need for GBV programming, both regionally and globally. As a result, ROSA created the learning series to address GBViE response, prevention and risk mitigation in South Asia.

Since my previous blogs, I have completed all the tasks related to the learning series, such as writing an executive summary, creating workbooks and individual action plans for all the participants, and inputting all the data collected into a matrix.

I collaborated with the child protection team to write the executive summary. The executive summary provided information on the background, an overview of the content of the series, a participants’ overview, as well as participant evaluations and recommended next steps. It was disseminated to the participants and the Gender/Child Protection network as a resource tool.

I also got the opportunity to work on other gender programming in South Asia after the series ended. I was able to review Country Office Annual Reporting (COAR), and then summarize the best gender results from the COAR. The Regional Gender Advisor presented these gender results to the Headquarters at their Annual reporting meetings. I also analyzed and compiled gender data across COVID-19 Situational reports (SitRep) and Strategic Monitoring Questions (SMQs) and created graphs highlighting the five priority actions in UNICEF COVID‑19 country responses. Using the COAR, SitRep and the SMQs results, the three gender interns were able to write and design a report on Gender Equality and COVID-19 Responses. The report focused on UNICEF’s four result areas (Water/ IPC, Primary Health Care, Learning and Mental Health/ GBV), and highlighted the gender-related COVID-19 results in the South Asia Region.

Overall, my internship with UNICEF ROSA has been a fulfilling experience. I have gained extensive knowledge in the areas of GBViE, as well as gender transformative and gender mainstreaming programming in both the humanitarian and development context. I will take the experience and learning forward into my career in development by adding a gender transformative approach.

As my internship comes to an end, I would like to thank BSIA, the UN Association of Canada, and UNICEF ROSA for giving me this life-changing professional and learning opportunity and making my dreams of working with the UNICEF a reality.

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