Since the start of the pandemic, concerns have been raised about the possible consequences of government containment measures and how overwhelmed healthcare facilities may have resulted in, and continue to pose, different kinds of challenges to women, men, girls, and boys, along with gender conforming and non-conforming LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) individuals with or without disabilities. Women, men, girls, boys, and LGBTQI+ individuals are adapting creatively and resiliently to the pandemic’s trying conditions, supporting their families and their communities.
Nonetheless, many likely require more support from humanitarian actors, particularly in contexts with challenging pre-existing conditions. Humanitarian programming needs to adapt to the specific needs of disabled and abled-bodied women, men, girls, boys, and LGBTQI+ individuals in their respective contexts. Since the start of the pandemic; however, some trends have emerged that point towards similarities across countries and regions in the impact that the pandemic has had on people’s access to healthcare and their exposure to health issues and violence. Some of these include potential increases in intensity and exposure to domestic violence and GBV, alongside abuse and neglect of children, elderly, and disabled people; increased barriers to accessing health services; food insecurity and resulting malnutrition risks; and potential increases in mental health strain. Current challenges faced by healthcare workers are also gendered, and their needs should be incorporated into response planning.
The pandemic and its secondary impacts may also have unpredictable effects and programming should remain adaptable and informed by local contexts; acknowledging lessons learned from the past few months and from previous epidemics, alongside the pre-COVID context, could help in forecasting what these impacts may look like for different demographics. Constant gender- and disability-sensitive monitoring is required to adapt programming to different needs; this, coupled with a crisis-level analytical approach, could assess vulnerability factors to better understand the pandemic’s gendered impact and inform adapted and relevant responses that do not neglect vulnerable populations and that address the indirect consequences of the pandemic on people’s wellbeing.