While the Coronavirus pandemic continues to be a source of concern across the world with its attendant stay-at-home order in countries globally and advocacies for social distancing and closed down businesses and schools, few have looked beyond the immediate impacts of the pandemic. And while schools have been closed for an indefinite length of time, there has been no consideration to the fact that there is an additional burden of care on mothers especially in the African setup.
It is a fact that this has become a source of additional responsibility to women as mothers and caregivers who not only have to stay long hours with the children but also have the duty of ensuring that they adhere to the necessary precautionary measures.
Women have to adjust their schedules to accommodate their additional responsibilities while the men are less affected by such developments. When children get infected, the mothers are at the frontline of care and risks too before the medical workers take it up. And often, when a child gets viral infections, the probability of the mother also getting infected is quite high.
Because of their role as caregiver to the family, women have to relate with the outside world, to buy things, get water and other domestic chores. This makes it difficult for them to be able to maintain high level of social distance. They can’t optimally distance themselves socially and physically from others, as they are bound to meet their peers during domestic chores, thus increasing their risk of infection and also making them vulnerable to taking the infection to their family.
Also, while social distancing has been identified as a measure to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it also has the side effect of increasing the time spent in private spaces and creating an opportunity for women and girls to be violated and abused easily. This is why everyone has a role to play in considering the impacts of social distancing on women in order to protect them.
Another point is the fact that the lockdown has been identified as the cause for rise in domestic violence. There is a need for sensitisation not only on how to address the spread of Covid-19 but also on protection of women during this pandemic.
There is a need to share the domestic burden and not make girls the only ones that will clean the environment or fetch water from the public tap. They should not be over-burdened with responsibilities that expose them to infection and abuse.
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