Covid-19 and Women’s Stories from Around the World

From : Ruby Kholifah / Secretary General of AMAN

Women and Covid-19. [photo : ABC]

Amanasia.org – This paper is inspired by the stories of women peace workers who attended the online conference on 2 April 2020 organized by the International Civil Society Network (ICAN). The three-hours conference through Zoom media (hereinafter referred to as the ICAN conference) was attended by women peace agents from various countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Jordan, Tunisia, Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, Maldives, Indonesia and so on.

In total there were 30 participants, all of whom were ICAN members, I was the only one representing Indonesia and Southeast Asia. To get the depth of the data, I also add data from the media, journals, and reports written by other parties to complete the data and at the same time detail it with narratives that have been released by popular media.

The story of a woman in a Palestinian conflict area seems interesting to be the opening of this article, mainly to read the lockdown situation from a woman’s glasses. Here is the story.

“I never imagined in my life that there would be a day when I saw Palestinian police force Palestinians in the village and the city not to leave the house at certain times. I was old enough to remember that usually, the one who did that was Israeli police who announced the limitation of hours, especially during the First Intifada”(Siham Rishmawi, 63 years old, a mother from Beit Sahur, South Bethlehem, Palestine.

What she meant was a series of Palestinian protests against Israelis occupying occupations in the West Bank and Gaza. The statement from Rishmawi quoted by the Jerusalem Post (jpost.com) on March 12, 2020, above is an unusual sight in Palestine as a consequence of the lockdown policy imposed by the Palestinian government to break the chain of distribution of Covid-19. Lucy Talgieh, a peace activist from Palestine also told the same thing at the ICAN conference meeting.

Lucy added that the lockdown policy with various limitations possessed by the Palestinians had a serious impact on women, especially those working in the informal sector. According to him, women must carry a double burden with the spread of this virus, because they are usually caring for sick family members. Yet, on the other hand, they are also burdened to look for money. In the lockdown policy, all places have the potential to become a gathering place, for example, churches, mosques, marriage halls, restaurants, cafes, all of which are now closed to stop the chain of spreading the virus. Checkpoints are built everywhere in the city of Bethlehem to control people’s mobility.

Similar conditions are also found in countries such as Jordan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Tunisia, India, Kenya, Cameroon, Uganda and of course those who have already been locked down are China, Italy, Spain, Maldives, Ireland. Visaka Dharmadasa, Founder of the Association of Women Survivors and the families of missing people in Sri Lanka, also confirmed that lockdowns make informal women workers lose their economic chains, even said by Visaka that domestic violence begins to emerge when people are in a state of stress and confined inside the home. A small country like the Maldives is also experiencing a very serious impact from Covid-19, moreover, the country that contains the coast depends on imports and tourism.

In Afghanistan, according to the story of Humaira, a female doctor and activist, the Afghan government has tried very hard, but many positive patients cannot be dealt with optimally because of limited medical access. Moreover, the condition of Afghanistan, which experienced prolonged conflict, of course, made the situation worse. The whack of poverty and the difficulty of finding work are also factors that worsen the living situation under Pandemic Covid 10. Women do more unpaid work because of gender roles constructed by the community as caregivers (someone in the family who plays a role serving family members) or caretakers (people asked to do work serving).

This paper wants to see how women in various sectors are affected by Pandemic Covid-19, especially women in the informal sector who depend on daily income. The author is also interested in seeing the rise in violence in the household along with the implementation of lockdown or self-isolation. At the end of the article, there will be an analysis of why women are so vulnerable to being affected by Pandemic Covid-19? How do women peace agents respond amid this crisis?