As countries across the world celebrate International Women’s Day, Twaweza is releasing new data on the social effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Half of citizens report that in their communities, physical violence (51%), emotional violence (51%) and sexual violence or assault (46%) have become worse during the outbreak. Similarly, half of citizens report that alcohol consumption (58%) and drug use and abuse (49%) have also gotten worse in their communities during this period. But the largest effect is on teen pregnancy: 8 out of 10 citizens (79%) say these have increased in their community in recent months.
These findings were released by Twaweza to mark International Women’s Day. They are based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,500 respondents across Uganda in November 2020.
Although different groups – those with different levels of education, men and women, rural and urban residents – have similar perceptions that things have gotten worse, there are small differences. Urban and poor Ugandans are more likely to say that various forms of violence have become worse. Older Ugandan citizens are less likely to say so.
However when it comes to the situation in their own homes, most citizens (48% – 58%) report that things are the same as before with respect to gender violence, substance abuse and teen pregnancy. Indeed, more report that things have gotten better (22% – 31%) than say that things have gotten worse (14% – 23%).
When it comes to the social impact of school closures, five out of ten citizens (51%) say these have the same impact on both girls and boys, compared to four out of ten (39%), especially wealthier, more educated citizens and urban residents who say the effect is different for boys and girls.
At the same time, 2 out of 3 citizens say girls are worse affected by school closure. Women, urban residents, younger citizens, wealthier and better-educated citizens are more likely than others to think girls are more affected by school closures than boys.
The main reason citizens say girls are more affected than boys by school closures is that teenage pregnancy is rising (45%), followed by early marriage (15%).
Marie Nanyanzi of Sauti za Wananchi at Twaweza, said: “The focus of the response to the Coronavirus pandemic has been on health and economic issues. But it would be a mistake to ignore the social impact of extended lock downs school closure and other restrictions of movement. The data are clear that that women and girls are deeply affected in multiple ways that will affect our societies now and in the future.”
Violet Alinda, Country Lead for Uganda at Twaweza added: “As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, we must reflect on the disproportionate burden borne by women during the global coronavirus crisis. Women bear the brunt of the burden of caring for the sick, as they are the primary caregivers in our communities. They are also being deeply and negatively affected by the restrictions and measures used to curb the spread of the virus. The shocking conclusion is that citizens – men and women, old and young, rural and urban, poor and rich – are essentially admitting that women are not safe in their own homes! During times of crisis, especially when they are unable to leave the home, for school, work or otherwise, they are at much greater risk of abuse and violence. We have to act to end this largely invisible war on women and girls in our own homes and communities.”
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