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AKFC: Side Effects - How COVID-19 is Putting Gender Equality Gains at Risk

October 21, 2020 | Canada

By Lindsay Mossman, Senior Gender Equality Advisor

The word “pandemic” comes from the Greek pandēmos, meaning all (pan) people (dēmos). But while COVID-19 has impacted every person on the planet in some way, the effects we each feel are not equal.

How old you are, where you live, your race, your ethnic background, and your socioeconomic status all affect how your world has changed since the pandemic began. Gender is no exception.

There are the basic and most obvious measures of the virus: Initial data suggest that women make up just more than half of the worldwide cases of COVID-19, while men are more likely to die from the virus.

But the pandemic is affecting women and girls in ways that are not as obvious at first glance. As a gender equality advisor for Aga Khan Foundation Canada, I see these effects every day.

Our portfolio of programs invests across a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to promote the fundamentals of healthy, prosperous lives: Health care, education, sustainable access to food, economic opportunity, and early childhood development. I work with my colleagues across Africa and Asia to ensure all of these programs also advance gender equality, Goal 5 of the SDGs.

While COVID-19 is having devastating effects around the world, the impact is anticipated to be particularly acute in the developing countries where we work. Our programs, supported in partnership with the Government of Canada, have pivoted to respond.

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