The East African: East Africa Must Prioritise Women, Girls’ Protection During Covid-19 and Beyond

For the better part of 2020, East African countries have been battling to contain the spread of Covid-19 with over 46,633 cases reported across Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda as of September 6.

Among them, Kenya and Rwanda account for the larger chunk with 35,103 and 4,349 cases reported in the respective States.

Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda responded by imposing lockdown, curfews, advising non-essential State and non-State personnel to work from home, shutdown of learning institutions as well as cancellation of international flights and social distancing restrictions to contain spread of the virus.

 However, some countries in the region downplayed the existence of the virus, thereby risking the lives of their citizens and of the neighbouring countries.

In all, the Covid-19 pandemic has not only presented health, economic and social challenges but also changed lives in many different ways; across the East African block, the lives of women, girls, gender non-conforming groups and people living with disability are increasingly endangered by the catastrophic secondary impacts that continue to shadow the pandemic.

Aside from the devastating loss of livelihoods, the pandemic has magnified structural violence and inequalities that the most vulnerable in the society continue to endure even in ‘peace’ times.

With the stay at home order, women and girls are increasingly finding themselves in the ‘lockdown’ with their abusers and isolated from their support networks and essential services.

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